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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Wednesday, August 22, 2012 9:20 AM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Smoke levels around the state are sort of a mix this morning. The cold front passed through western Montana late yesterday. Winds and unstable air did in fact mix and disperse some of the smoke, but the wind and lightning also fanned and sparked new fires, so the total amount of smoke stayed relatively the same in some areas. Some of these new, lightning-caused fires are north of Helena, west of Missoula, and southwest of Butte, just to name a few higher-impacting fires. Many short-term, one-hour average particulate concentrations are down slightly this morning from higher levels yesterday, like Missoula, Helena, Seeley Lake, and West Yellowstone, where one-hour concentrations are GOOD, but long-term, 24-hour averaged concentrations are MODERATE. The Bitterroot Valley still has high levels of smoke, near MODERATE for the short-term, and UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS for the past day. As Butte still has high smoke concentrations as well, this region of southwestern Montana (Beaverhead and part of Madison County) should see similar conditions. The use of webcams and visibility is somewhat skewed this morning due to very high relative humidity values in the western half of the state, where humidities are 80% to almost 100%. With that amount of moisture in the air, the water vapor scatters sunlight and visibility is further reduced. Once temperatures warm up today and the relative humidity drops, visibility guidelines will be more useful again by this afternoon.

The cold front is still making its way east across the state this morning. Clouds and rain show where the front is. Winds are gusty from the west and northwest along and behind the frontal boundary. Today should not be a critical fire day, but smoke will not completely clear out today either.

Another update will come this afternoon, with the latest smoke conditions around the state, fire activity, and a forecast.
See "Today's Report and Forecast." Another update will come this afternoon, with the latest smoke conditions around the state, fire activity, and a forecast.
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 8:30 this morning. The heavy cloud-cover in eastern Montana shows the approximate location of the cold front, which is almost through the state. 

This is the visible satellite image from 8:30 this morning. The heavy cloud-cover in eastern Montana shows the approximate location of the cold front, which is almost through the state.


 








 




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
Hamilton B24
Frenchtown B24
  Moderate

 Great Falls B24
Seeley Lake B24
Helena B24
Missoula B24
 

  Good

 West Yellowstone
Billings
Sidney
Flathead Valley B1(4)
Libby
 

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.