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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Friday, August 10, 2012 2:40 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
With the heavy cloud-cover moving into the state, it is difficult to tell exactly where smoke is coming from. Rain and thunderstorms are showing up across parts of southwestern and west-central Montana, which is helping to clear smoke out of some areas, but winds are also creating heavier smoke impacts in others. The Bitterroot Valley and Seeley Lake have seen improved smoke conditions in the last few hours. Butte, Bozeman, and Billings have seen a steady increase in smoke. Elsewhere, conditions have generally held steady since this morning. Winds across eastern Montana have been blowing generally from the east, and gusts have been near 20 mph. Red Flag Warnings are still in effect for much of central and southwestern Montana through tonight, for gusty winds, low relative humidities, and thunderstorms with frequent lightning.

Smoke conditions tonight will depend on any new wildfires sparked by thunderstorms and a storm’s influence on any existing fire, which may stir it back up to create more smoke. There is a good chance for either of these scenarios to happen, so to be on the safe side, we should continue to expect smoke through the weekend. The weather will remain slightly active overnight and through tomorrow morning, which will help dispersion conditions to try and clear the smoke. By Saturday afternoon, another ridge of high pressure will move back in. Skies will be mostly clear and temperatures will still be warm near 90. The sunny skies will really emphasize the presence of smoke and haze if it exists. By Sunday night, a weather disturbance will move across the state, bringing another chance of thunderstorms and wind. By Monday, the high pressure ridge builds back in for the day, creating very hot and clear conditions again. There looks to be some relief from the heat by Tuesday, when a large weather system is forecasted to move over the region, bringing with it a strong cold front. Temperatures for the remainder of the week will be comfortably below normal.
Smoke continues to bother many parts of Montana this afternoon. The rain and active moisture has brought some smoke relief to parts of western Montana, but other places have seen an increase in smoke. There are several large fires still burning in Montana, smoke is still blowing into the southwest from Idaho, and there are many small fires around the state, sparked by hundreds of lightning strikes that we have seen in recent days. Red Flag Warnings are in effect until tonight for gusty winds and thunderstorms with more lightning.
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 1:30 this afternoon, showing a broad area of clouds in association with a weather disturbance. It is nearly impossible to use a satellite image that is covered in clouds to identify any regions of wildfire smoke. 

This is the visible satellite image from 1:30 this afternoon, showing a broad area of clouds in association with a weather disturbance. It is nearly impossible to use a satellite image that is covered in clouds to identify any regions of wildfire smoke.


 
This is a smoky horizon in Billings this afternoon.

This is a smoky horizon in Billings this afternoon.


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. Grey represents smoke seen by satellite. 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  Butte B24, B8
Bozeman B24
West Yellowstone B24
Billings B24
Hamilton B24
  Moderate

 Frenchtown B24
Helena B24
 

  Good

 Libby
Flathead Valley
Missoula
Sidney
Seeley Lake
Great Falls
 

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.