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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Thursday, August 2, 2012 11:55 AM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Heavy smoke is being produced in a few places across the state today. The hardest-hit region is again in southeastern Montana, where at least five large fires are burning east of Hardin. Communities like Hardin, Lame Deer, Colstrip, Forsyth, and Birney, are seeing UNHEALTHY to VERY UNHEALTHY smoke levels. Smoke levels near Columbus, Billings, and out towards Glendive, are seeing MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS smoke impacts. MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS smoke is impacting southwestern Montana, like Beaverhead County and as far east as Bozeman. Finally, MODERATE smoke impacts are more small-scale and localized near Augusta from the fires in the Bob Marshall and Scapegoat. All of these areas are under Red Flag Warnings through tonight. A cold front is currently on its way and is just barely starting to enter far northern Montana just off the Rocky Mountain Front. Strong, gusty winds, as well as a wind shift along the frontal boundary are expected today, as well as hot and dry air ahead of the front. Conditions are ripe for existing fires to be fanned and grow, creating more smoke. Fires that intensify today will create UNHEALTHY to VERY UNHEALTHY smoke impacts downwind.

The cold front will continue to move across the state later today and into tonight. By tomorrow, temperatures will be some 20 degrees cooler in the afternoon and relative humidities will be higher. Tomorrow’s weather should help some with fire suppression efforts, but it will be short-lived, as a ridge of high pressure builds in over the weekend. The weather will get hot and dry again. A weak weather disturbance could pass on Monday, but for the most part, next week looks to be similar to what we have seen, with hot and dry conditions.
Heavy smoke has been observed across parts of southeastern Montana late yesterday evening and today. Smoke is also impacting parts of southwestern Montana and much of the general eastern half of Montana. Although most of the particulate monitors across the state are reporting GOOD, many of the impacted areas are outside of these monitors. Red Flag Warnings cover most of the state in anticipation of a cold front progged to cross the state later this evening and tonight.
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 11:30 this morning. The clouds in northwest Montana are in association with the cold front. 

This is the visible satellite image from 11:30 this morning. The clouds in northwest Montana are in association with the cold front.


 
This is a high-resolution satellite image of eastern Montana from yesterday afternoon (August 1). You can see the heavy smoke between the Yellowstone, Bighorn, and Tongue Rivers.

This is a high-resolution satellite image of eastern Montana from yesterday afternoon (August 1). You can see the heavy smoke between the Yellowstone, Bighorn, and Tongue Rivers.


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 

This is the Sweeney Creek webcam along I-94, east of Forsyth. A heavy smoke currently sits over this region of the state.

This is the Sweeney Creek webcam along I-94, east of Forsyth. A heavy smoke currently sits over this region of the state.

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 B8
  Moderate

  

  Good

 Libby
Flathead Valley
Hamilton
Frenchtown
Missoula
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.