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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Thursday, August 23, 2012 2:05 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Air quality has improved in some areas of the state, like west-central Montana (including Helena and Great Falls), but air quality continues to get worse in the Bitterroot Valley. One-hour particulate concentrations have been MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in Hamilton all day, and long-term, 24-hour averages have been UNHEALTHY. Webcam images support this information with dense smoke in the valley. Many cities have had one-hour particulate concentrations in the GOOD range for the last day or two, so even 24-hour averages are coming down to MODERATE and GOOD, like in Butte, Seeley Lake, and Missoula. The large spike in Great Falls is not representative of smoke, and all averages are GOOD there.

High atmospheric winds continue to push smoke from Idaho into western and southwestern Montana for yet another day. Red Flag Warnings are in effect for parts of Idaho and much of Montana on Friday for low relative humidities and gusty winds. Fire weather is dangerous where those large fires are already burning, so we should expect more smoke into western Montana tonight. A cold front will pass across Idaho and western Montana this evening, bringing more gusty winds and a wind shift. The cold front will continue east across the state tonight and tomorrow. There will be no rain associated with this cold front, except possibly for extreme northern Montana in Glacier and along the hi-line. Winds will be very strong along the front, and all day on Friday, winds will continue to be steadily strong all day from the west and northwest. Temperatures will be much cooler with the cooler, Canadian air blowing in, and the wind will make it feel almost blustery at times. Those high atmospheric winds will also shift around so that smoke from Idaho is diverted to the southeast, which should miss most of Montana. Dispersion will be excellent with the wind tomorrow, so any smoke seen across the state will be from Montana fires. Temperatures on Saturday morning will be very cold, and folks should take precaution with sensitive plants, especially west of the Divide. Temperatures will be cool as well on Saturday, and the wind will be much calmer. By Sunday, those high atmospheric winds will shift around again, bringing warmer air and another chance to see smoke from Idaho. The beginning of next week will stay hot and dry, so fire activity and smoke production will be a concern yet again.
Air quality has improved in some areas of the state, like west-central Montana (including Helena and Great Falls), but air quality continues to get worse in the Bitterroot Valley. One-hour particulate concentrations have been MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in Hamilton all day, and long-term, 24-hour averages have been UNHEALTHY. Webcam images support this information with dense smoke in the valley. Many cities have had one-hour particulate concentrations in the GOOD range for the last day or two, so even 24-hour averages are coming down to MODERATE and GOOD, like in Butte, Seeley Lake, and Missoula. The large spike in Great Falls is not representative of smoke, and all averages are GOOD there.
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 1:30 this afternoon. Skies are mostly clear across Montana, and smoke plumes are visible once again in central and eastern Idaho. 

This is the visible satellite image from 1:30 this afternoon. Skies are mostly clear across Montana, and smoke plumes are visible once again in central and eastern Idaho.


 
This is the webcam image from Hamilton this afternoon. The Bitterroot Valley is heavy with smoke.

This is the webcam image from Hamilton this afternoon. The Bitterroot Valley is heavy with smoke.


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  Hamilton B24
  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  West Yellowstone B24(1), B1(1)
  Moderate

 Butte B24
Missoula B24
Frenchtown B24
Billings B24
Sidney B24
 

  Good

 Libby
Flathead Valley
Seeley Lake
Helena
Bozeman
Great Falls
 

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.