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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Tuesday, July 31, 2012 8:40 AM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
There are now several active fires in the Bob Marshall and Scapegoat Wildernesses that are causing smoke impacts off the Rocky Mountain Front and east into the plains. Visible satellite images from late yesterday until sunset showed smoke plumes continuing to blow east over the Great Falls area. By this morning, the first visible satellite images since sunrise (see below) continue to show two distinct smoke plumes. Those fires likely burned well overnight, and as the air is more stable overnight, much of that smoke sunk towards the ground, now creating MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS smoke conditions in towns like Augusta, Great Falls, and Fort Benton. There is also heavy smoke across northeastern Montana that was produced by those fires yesterday and also settled toward the ground overnight. Sidney is reporting MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS conditions as well, and similar conditions should be seen across towns in Valley, Daniels, Sheridan, Roosevelt, Richland, McCone, Dawson, and Wibaux Counties this morning. Finally, we are seeing UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in West Yellowstone, and likely just in localized pockets across extreme southwestern Montana from fires in Idaho yesterday. The sky is almost completely cloud-free across the state today, and we are expecting another hot and sunny day. Once the sun starts to come up by mid-morning, the ground will start to heat up the air and smoke should start to lift off the ground, improving air quality in most places. Fires will continue to burn and create smoke plumes under the hot and dry conditions. Smoke plumes will continue to blow east and northeast today as well. There will be another update this afternoon as conditions change. There is smoke across central, northeastern, and extreme southwestern Montana this morning. See "Today's Report and Forecast" for more information. There will also be an afternoon update.
Residents near active fires and under plumes aloft need to remain aware of current conditions and use the visibility guidelines to guide their activity decisions as the situation changes.

Air Quality Bureau
Montana Department of Environmental Quality
Phone: (406) 444-3490
Email: DEQMTSmoke@mt.gov




This is the visible satellite image from 8:00 this morning (July 31). Though they are very faint, you can still see two distinct smoke plumes coming from the wilderness west of Great Falls. 

This is the visible satellite image from 8:00 this morning (July 31). Though they are very faint, you can still see two distinct smoke plumes coming from the wilderness west of Great Falls.


 
This satellite image was from 8:00 last night (July 30), and despite the presence of storm clouds across central Montana, we can see three distinct smoke plumes in this image, indicated by the red arrows.

This satellite image was from 8:00 last night (July 30), and despite the presence of storm clouds across central Montana, we can see three distinct smoke plumes in this image, indicated by the red arrows.


This morning’s analysis from NOAA’s satellite services division shows the most recent active fires in Montana and the smoke plumes combining and spreading downwind.

This morning’s analysis from NOAA’s satellite services division shows the most recent active fires in Montana and the smoke plumes combining and spreading downwind.

Red indicates hot spot detected. Green represents thin smoke, yellow is moderate smoke, and pink is dense smoke. Fire size is exaggerated for visibility at this scale. To identify individual fires on graphic above go here: http://activefiremaps.fs.fed.us/lg_fire2.php 

This is a webcam image from Great Falls this morning looking west. As I stated earlier, and as you can see above, there are no clouds across the region this morning; this is wildfire smoke.

This is a webcam image from Great Falls this morning looking west. As I stated earlier, and as you can see above, there are no clouds across the region this morning; this is wildfire smoke.

Real time particulate information is currently available in most of the larger urban areas from MTDEQ's Today's Air website.

Today's particulate report below compares particulate levels received from DEQ's
reporting stations with MTDEQ’s Health Effect Categories.

Locations and severity of PM 2.5 particulate values over the past 24 hours from the time above.
Health Effects Categories City
  Hazardous  
  Very Unhealthy  
  Unhealthy  
  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  West Yellowstone B24
  Moderate

 Sidney B24, B8, B1
Great Falls B24, B8
Frenchtown B24
Flathead Valley B24
 

  Good

 Libby
Missoula
Hamilton
Seeley Lake
Helena
Butte
Bozeman
Billings
 

B1(x) One-hour BAM value (number of values)
B8(x) Eight-hour average BAM
B24 24 hour  average BAM value
Local impacts in areas immediately adjacent to active fires are expected to exceed some or all of the advisory levels.  DEQ recommends the use of local visibility guidelines to evaluate possible health risks and make informed activity decisions.