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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Monday, August 13, 2012 2:35 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
It’s another smoky afternoon across much of western Montana. There are many fires in eastern Idaho across the border from the Bitterroot Valley which are blowing a lot of smoke west. The air monitor in Hamilton is having technical difficulties today, but the Forest Service has an air monitoring shelter in the very southern tip of Ravalli County, which is showing short-term smoke levels at UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Much of the Bitterroot Valley is probably also at least MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Southwestern Montana is also still seeing some smoke impacts left over from yesterday, and are running MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS as well. There are small fires between Helena and Great Falls, and the fairly rural area there is UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. To the northwest of Helena, smoke is heavy from fires in the Bob Marshall and Scapegoat, as well as near the Swan Valley, which is blowing west and adding to the smoke. Visibility is very low in these areas and smoke levels are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS to UNHEALTHY, although most of the region is pure wilderness. A general haze is over all of the state, but most other places are reporting GOOD air quality. There is a large thunderstorm in northeastern Montana this afternoon which is creating some varying wind directions and very strong wind gusts.

Fire Weather Watches are in effect for much of the state in anticipation of a cold front tomorrow. For the rest of today, fires will continue to produce smoke and should continue to slowly decrease the air quality. The Bitterroot Valley especially will continue to be hit hard by smoke from Idaho. Tomorrow, fire weather will be dangerous as much of the state heats up ahead of the cold front. Relative humidities will be low and the wind will be breezy ahead of the weather system. The cold front will start to pass from west to east in the late afternoon and evening. The front will pass over most of the state overnight. Winds will be strong along the frontal boundary and additional rain showers and thunderstorms are possible. By Wednesday, the weather will be much cooler than we have seen in weeks. Fire danger will be much lower with cooler temperatures and higher relative humidity. The cool-down is relatively short-lived, as we start another warming trend by Thursday ahead of another hot, dry weekend.
There is a lot of smoke over the western US today from very large fires in northern California, northern Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, and even some in Montana. There’s a general haze over much of the state, but air quality is generally GOOD east of the Divide. To the west, smoke is rather heavy, especially in the Bitterroot Valley and across parts of southwestern Montana.
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 1:15 this afternoon. The round cloud in the northeast is a thunderstorm. Most of the smoke over the west today is south of Montana, but localized areas with multiple fires is greatly affecting parts of western Montana today.  

This is the visible satellite image from 1:15 this afternoon. The round cloud in the northeast is a thunderstorm. Most of the smoke over the west today is south of Montana, but localized areas with multiple fires is greatly affecting parts of western Montana today.


 
This is a webcam image from Hamilton today, and you can see just how smoky it is!

This is a webcam image from Hamilton today, and you can see just how smoky it is!


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  West Yellowstone B24
  Moderate

 Hamilton B1
Frenchtown B24
 

  Good

 Libby
Flathead Valley
Missoula
Seeley Lake
Helena
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.