Wildfire Smoke Updates Home | Archived Wildfire Smoke Updates | Today's Air

Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Wednesday, August 1, 2012 2:30 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Air quality has improved across much of the state today, and all monitoring sites are reporting GOOD conditions. A weak disturbance moved across the state last night, bringing rain to parts of eastern and northeastern Montana. This rain created some good dispersion and helped to clean up some of the smoke that was hanging in the air from fires in the Bob Marshall and Scapegoat Wildernesses for the last few days. Those fires are still causing smoke impacts, but as is typical with the heating of the day, the dense smoke is lifted away from the ground, and Great Falls is reporting GOOD. Towns closer to the fire, like Augusta, should still see higher smoke impacts from UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS to UNHEALTHY. Fires in eastern Idaho were active yesterday, pushing thin smoke into western and southwestern Montana, but as of late this morning, air quality conditions have improved to GOOD and MODERATE levels. Major smoke plumes from the fires in western Montana and central Idaho are not as visible or impressive today (see visible satellite image below). Unfortunately, as we are getting a break from the smoke today, the state is currently blanketed in Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches that will likely be upgraded to Red Flag Warnings before tomorrow. These are all in anticipation of a weather system tomorrow afternoon and night. Temperatures will heat up with a surge of hot, southerly wind ahead of a cold front. Relative humidities will be low and winds will be high. Late tomorrow evening and through the night, a cold front will swing east across the state, bringing strong winds along the front as well a shift in wind direction. Thunderstorms are also possible with the front, so lightning may spark fires in an already dangerous period of fire weather.

Widespread, stagnant smoke will not be a problem tomorrow, as the weather system will create good dispersion. Receptors immediately downwind of fanned fires will see UNHEALTHY smoke impacts, but most places should be GOOD. On Friday, we are expecting much cooler temperatures with higher relative humidites, but it won’t last long as another stagnant ridge of high pressure moves into the region for the weekend. Temperatures will be hot again and any smoke produced will likely accumulate over a broad area again.
Air quality has improved across much of the state today, and all monitoring sites are reporting GOOD conditions. Much of the smoke from yesterday has moved out of the region, although fires still continue to burn and are creating UNHEALTHY conditions immediately downwind. Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches are across almost every county for tomorrow. A low pressure system will create strong winds and a warm, dry surge of air in the afternoon before a cold front in the evening and into the night. This will create stronger winds, a wind shift, and a chance for thunderstorms.
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 2:00 this afternoon. Skies are mostly clear across the state, and only two, small smoke plumes are really visible in this image: one in central Idaho and one in the Bob Marshall Wilderness of western Montana. 

This is the visible satellite image from 2:00 this afternoon. Skies are mostly clear across the state, and only two, small smoke plumes are really visible in this image: one in central Idaho and one in the Bob Marshall Wilderness of western Montana.


 





This morning’s analysis from NOAA’s satellite services division shows the active fires in Montana and the smoke plumes combining and spreading downwind (the analyzed smoke is based on yesterday’s satellite coverage, the fire detects are based on last nights satellite coverage).

This morning’s analysis from NOAA’s satellite services division shows the active fires in Montana and the smoke plumes combining and spreading downwind (the analyzed smoke is based on yesterday’s satellite coverage, the fire detects are based on last nights satellite coverage).

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 




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  
  Moderate

 West Yellowstone B24, B8 

  Good

 Libby
Flathead Valley
Frenchtown
Missoula
Hamilton
Helena
Seeley Lake
Butte
Bozeman
Great Falls
Billings
Sidney
 

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.