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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Tuesday, August 21, 2012 3:40 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Air quality is still poor in much of southwestern and now western Montana this afternoon, although smoke in some areas is not quite as dense as it was yesterday. The Bitterroot Valley saw very heavy smoke yesterday, but now long-term smoke exposure is down to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, and one-hour averages are even GOOD. The same is true for Bozeman. The broad area of smoke spread out, though, and even Libby and Helena are MODERATE. Several fires continue to burn across western Montana, and even near Billings. Smoke production from our fires is still small compared to Idaho and other western states. There is good news on the way, though. A cold front is currently making its way across Montana. It is slowly passing through northwestern Montana right now. A wind shift, strong wind, clouds, and even some precipitation are accompanying this front. The instability and north/northwest wind from this front should help to clear out a lot of the smoke as it makes its way across the state tonight and tomorrow morning. Fire weather will be less of a concern across western Montana tomorrow. By Thursday, another weather system will approach the Northern Rockies. Temperatures will briefly warm up again ahead of the cold front, and we may see another shot of smoke from Idaho as atmospheric winds will come from the southwest again. Another cold front will pass on Friday. This one will be stronger than today’s cold front, so the air behind it for the weekend will be cooler. Winds along the front will be gusty again, and we will have another slight chance for some rain showers. The weekend looks sunny, cooler, and hopefully less smoky. Air quality is still poor in much of southwestern and now western Montana this afternoon, although smoke in some areas is not quite as dense as it was yesterday. Several fires continue to burn across western Montana, and even near Billings. Smoke production from our fires is still small compared to Idaho and other western states. A cold front is currently making its way across Montana. It is slowly passing through northwestern Montana right now.
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 2:30 this afternoon. Clouds are starting to come in from the west in association with a low pressure weather system and a cold front.  

This is the visible satellite image from 2:30 this afternoon. Clouds are starting to come in from the west in association with a low pressure weather system and a cold front.


 





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  Frenchtown B24
Missoula B24
Hamilton B24
Bozeman B24
Butte B24
  Moderate

 West Yellowstone B24, B8
Libby B24
Seeley Lake B24, B8
Helena B24
 

  Good

 Flathead Valley
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.