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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Wednesday, August 22, 2012 2:45 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Air quality has slowly gotten worse across far western Montana this afternoon. Long-term particulate averages are now MODERATE in Missoula, and are still UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in Frenchtown and Hamilton. Smoke continues to settle into the Bitterroot Valley, as even one hour particulate concentrations are now MODERATE in Hamilton. Elsewhere, smoke has remained roughly the same since this morning’s update. Relative humidities are now near 20-30%, so using the visibility guidelines is much more appropriate this afternoon. Webcam images around the state show a general smoky haze, with areas of heavier, ground-level smoke, like in far western and southwestern Montana. Winds are gusty from the west this afternoon in the plains.

Red Flag Warnings are in effect for Thursday in southwestern Montana, and Fire Weather Watches are in effect for central Montana and along the hi-line. Another cold front is expected to pass across the state tomorrow evening and through the night. Ahead of the cold front, temperatures will warm back up again, with strong southwesterly winds, and low relative humidities. As the front passes, the wind will shift and become more westerly and northwesterly. Winds will also be gusty with the potential to fan the fires, but also to blow smoke out of the area. Chances for rain and thunderstorms are very slim because most of the moisture will stay in Canada. The highest chance for any rain will be along the north border. By Friday, it will feel much cooler again, but the wind will stay strong throughout the day. Temperatures will slowly start to warm up again by Saturday, as the high atmospheric winds start to come from the southwest. This will last through Tuesday, when another weather system and cold front should pass across the state again. This time period will be mostly sunny and dry, with the threat of low relative humidities again and fire activity picking back up in Idaho. The first part of next week may be smoky again before this next cold front.
Air quality has slowly gotten worse across far western Montana this afternoon. Long-term particulate averages are now MODERATE in Missoula, and are still UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in Frenchtown and Hamilton. Smoke continues to settle into the Bitterroot Valley, as even one hour particulate concentrations are now MODERATE in Hamilton. Elsewhere, smoke has remained roughly the same since this morning’s update.
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




Morning satellite photo centered on Great Falls 




 





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
Hamilton B24, B8
  Moderate

 Seeley Lake B24
Helena B24
Great Falls B24
Billings B24
Butte B24
Missoula B24, B8
 

  Good

 Libby
Flathead Valley
Sidney
West Yellowstone
 

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.