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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 2:35 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
A very strong cold front plowed through Montana last night, bringing very strong winds to some areas and even a dust storm. Winds along the Rocky Mountain Front gusted over 60 mph in several locations, and Cascade saw a 98 mph wind gust! The wind came long before any of the clouds and rain, which moved through early this morning and is starting to dissipate across southeastern Montana. This cold front and very active weather system brought very good dispersion and air quality is now GOOD across almost the entire state. Visibility is also excellent again. Temperatures are in the 50s and 60s across the state, and relative humidities are around 50%. Fire activity in Montana is minimal at best today. The cold front has not passed into Idaho, as temperatures there are still in the 70s and 80s right now. Satellite images show that fires are still burning strong in eastern and central Idaho, but high atmospheric winds are blowing out of the north, and so are blowing smoke to the south instead of west over our state. If this is your kind of weather, get out and enjoy the cool breeze and clean air!

This fall-like weather is very short-lived, as a ridge of high pressure will shortly start to work its way into the west again. Temperatures will warm up starting tomorrow, as we dry out and enter into another period where fire weather will be a concern. Most of the state will be back in the 90s by Friday and Saturday, and the hot, dry stretch will last into early next week, and fire activity will likely resume to how it was for the previous few days.
A very strong cold front passed through Montana late last night and has almost moved through the entire state by this afternoon. Air quality and visibility are GOOD almost everywhere, thanks to the good dispersion and smoke-clearing forces of that cold front. Temperatures are very cool and relative humidities are high. Fire activity today should be minimal at best, so air quality will stay good all day. Tomorrow, we will enter into another warm and dry period where fire activity will pick up again.
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 12:45 this afternoon. Cool air has plunged south into Montana, and is easily identifiable by the U-shaped cloud feature over Montana. It continues to spread south, now reaching into Wyoming and the western Dakotas. It is also pushing out that region of heavy smoke that was over southwestern Montana yesterday.  

This is the visible satellite image from 12:45 this afternoon. Cool air has plunged south into Montana, and is easily identifiable by the U-shaped cloud feature over Montana. It continues to spread south, now reaching into Wyoming and the western Dakotas. It is also pushing out that region of heavy smoke that was over southwestern Montana yesterday.


 
This webcam near Ennis shows that there is almost no smoke left in most of southwestern Montana today!

This webcam near Ennis shows that there is almost no smoke left in most of southwestern Montana 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

 West Yellowstone B8(5) 

  Good

 Hamilton B1(4)
Bozeman B1(14), B8(11)
Frenchtown B1(14), B8(7)
Libby
Flathead Valley
Seeley Lake
Missoula
Helena
Butte
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.