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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Tuesday, August 7, 2012 1:00 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
The weather disturbance that moved slowly across the state yesterday helped to clear at least some of the smoke out of central and eastern Montana. That broad area of heavy, high-altitude smoke is not as visible today. Air quality is GOOD across northern Montana. In southwest Montana, our fires as well as fires in Idaho continue to produce smoke, and the smoke is MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in much of Beaverhead County. The southern Bitterroot Valley is also seeing MODERATE long-term smoke conditions, thanks to now a few fires in the Bitterroot National Forest. There are multiple fires in the Bob Marshall and Scapegoat Wildernesses, which are starting to impact the Swan Valley. The weather disturbance helped to clear out some smoke from the fires in southeastern Montana. Monitoring stations and webcams confirm that generally, there is less smoke over the area. By early this afternoon, smoke impacts are mostly MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, save for towns immediately next to the fires, which are still UNHEALTHY.

The weather disturbance that moved through yesterday was the last instance of moderate to good dispersion that we will see for several days. A stagnant ridge of high pressure has moved in today. Skies are clear, except for remnant clouds moving east across northeastern Montana. Hot, dry air is pushing over the state. Red Flag Warnings are in effect for southeastern Montana and in the northern counties off the Rocky Mountain Front. Some breezy gusts are already mixing to the surface early this afternoon, and relative humidities are dropping below 20-25% in the plains. As temperatures heat up near 100 degrees for the next two days, and especially tomorrow afternoon, relative humidities will be very low and dangerous. Dispersion will be mostly poor, as smoke that is produced here and in neighboring states upwind will likely create a cumulative haze in the sky. The forecast will remain persistent through the weekend, except for the slight possibility of isolated, late-afternoon thunderstorms towards the end of the week and weekend.
The weather disturbance that was slow to move across the state yesterday has cleared some of the high-level smoke out of the air for now. There are still some very smoky regions of the state, like in the southwest (from fires in Idaho and the Bitterroot National Forest) and in the southeast (from large fires in southeastern Montana counties). Smoke impacts in these areas range from MODERATE to UNHEALTHY, especially near the southeastern fires. Red Flag Warnings are in effect for southeastern Montana and northern counties off the Rocky Mountain Front, for some gusty winds and low relative humidities. This hot, dry pattern will continue for at least the rest of this week, when relative humidities will be very low in the afternoons, combined with some strong gusts. The overall weather pattern will be quite stagnant under a broad ridge of high pressure, so air quality may get worse as the week goes on, and a smoky haze may be the norm across much of the sky.
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 12:30 this afternoon. The clouds in far northeastern Montana are left over from yesterday’s disturbance. Otherwise, skies are almost completely clear except for some terrain-induced clouds over the southwest mountains.  

This is the visible satellite image from 12:30 this afternoon. The clouds in far northeastern Montana are left over from yesterday’s disturbance. Otherwise, skies are almost completely clear except for some terrain-induced clouds over the southwest mountains.


 
In the background of this webcam of the Vigilante Field in Dillon, one can see the smoke hanging over southwestern Montana.

In the background of this webcam of the Vigilante Field in Dillon, one can see the smoke hanging over southwestern 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

 Hamilton B24 

  Good

 Libby
Flathead Valley
Frenchtown
Missoula
Seeley Lake
Helena
Butte
Bozeman
West Yellowstone
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.