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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Monday, August 6, 2012 3:00 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Air quality is dropping from GOOD to MODERATE for long-term exposures in several monitoring sites. Extreme southwestern Montana was MODERATE yesterday, and now those impacts are spreading. Hamilton, Butte, and Bozeman are now showing MODERATE 24-hour particulate concentrations, and hourly concentrations are steadily increasing. West Yellowstone is also seeing higher 1-hour average concentrations, and 24-hour average concentrations will be at MODERATE in the next few hours if the trend continues. Across eastern Montana, and particularly southeastern Montana, air quality is being heavily impacted by erratic wildfires south of I-90 in Treasure, Rosebud, and Big Horn Counties. Communities near these fires, like Lame Deer, Hardin, and Colstrip are seeing up to VERY UNHEALTHY smoke conditions. This will continue this evening and UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS conditions will spread into other parts of southeastern Montana tonight as smoke settles to the ground. Today, winds are becoming gusty and relative humidity values are already nearing single-digits. A thin layer of high-altitude smoke is visible on satellite images, and was responsible for the red sunrise that some of us saw this morning. A weather disturbance is currently moving across the state, which prompted Red Flag Warnings through tonight for low relative humidity, gusty winds, and thunderstorms with little rain. Those thunderstorms are very isolated in southwestern Montana currently, but will slowly spread east and northeast throughout the evening. Lightning from these storms may spark new fires, and gusty winds around the thunderstorms would easily fan a nearby wildfire.

The forecast for the next week is not very hopeful in the way of fire suppression and lessening smoke impacts. A hot, stagnant ridge of high pressure will sit over the western US for at least the next week. Temperatures will be very hot in the afternoons, especially on Wednesday, which should be the hottest day of the week. Relative humidities will also be very low in the afternoons, again, especially on Wednesday as an area of very dry air moves over the state. Smoke should accumulate over the state as currently known fires continue to burn, both in the western forests and in the southeast, but also smoke will slowly blow in from other states, like Idaho. In the event of heavy, stagnant smoke, this website will be updated at least twice a day (morning and afternoon) and as conditions warrant.
Air quality is decreasing across the state as smoke from Idaho and here in Montana start to fill the air. Southwestern Montana is slowly starting to see MODERATE conditions spread across that region of the state. In southeastern Montana, huge fires continue to burn erratically, and under today’s Red Flag conditions, which is causing VERY UNHEALTHY smoke conditions in nearby towns. A weather disturbance is currently moving across the state, causing elevated winds, low relative humidities, and isolated thunderstorms. These storms have the potential for frequent lightning with little to no rain. The forecast for the rest of the week is hot, dry, and stagnant. Smoke impacts may become more severe as the week goes on and fire activity increases.
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




Visible satellite image from 2:15 this afternoon. A band of clouds is moving across the state right now, with isolated thunderstorms embedded in there. It is very difficult to tell in this image, but ahead of the band of clouds, the picture shows a band of a slightly different (lighter) shade of gray. This is a band of high-altitude smoke which is not having much impact on surface air quality, but certainly is creating that “smoky” look to the sky, and even giving parts of the state a red sunrise today.  

Visible satellite image from 2:15 this afternoon. A band of clouds is moving across the state right now, with isolated thunderstorms embedded in there. It is very difficult to tell in this image, but ahead of the band of clouds, the picture shows a band of a slightly different (lighter) shade of gray. This is a band of high-altitude smoke which is not having much impact on surface air quality, but certainly is creating that “smoky” look to the sky, and even giving parts of the state a red sunrise today.


 





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

 Hamilton B24
Butte B24
Bozeman B24
 

  Good

 Libby
Flathead Valley
Frenchtown
Missoula
Seeley Lake
Helena
Great Falls
West Yellowstone
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.