Wildfire Smoke Updates Home | Archived Wildfire Smoke Updates | Today's Air

Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Friday, August 24, 2012 8:50 AM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Winds and low humidity created ideal conditions late yesterday afternoon and evening for fires in Montana and Idaho to really burn, and produce a ton of smoke. The satellite image below is from 6:45 yesterday evening, and it’s eerily impressive how much smoke there is across Idaho and Montana, and just how much smoke is coming from those fires in eastern Idaho, just across the border. Smoke was very heavy last night and air quality was poor in a lot of places. Visibility was less than ten miles in most places, as well. The cold front is currently pushing its way across the state, and luckily for the smoky western half of the state, the cold front has passed through there. Air quality has improved in some of the hardest-hit areas as atmospheric winds start to push the smoke east and southeast. Hamilton and the entire Bitterroot Valley had very high particulate concentrations late last night, but after midnight, smoke started to clear out. The latest one-hour average is MODERATE, but that is about half of what it was a few hours ago. Long-term smoke exposures are still UNHEALTHY, but as smoke continues to clear out today there, barring another influx of smoke from the west, those numbers will start to go down. The webcam below shows the visibility in Hamilton this morning, which is leaps and bounds better than it was last night. Similar conditions are true for other non-reporting locations in southwestern Montana, including most of Beaverhead and Madison Counties. Smoke is also starting to clear out of there, slowly but surely. Air quality has improved to GOOD in places like Missoula, Seeley Lake, and Helena. Unfortunately, as locations in western Montana improve this morning, that means that places to the east are seeing some of that smoke now, though not as concentrated. Long-term smoke exposure in Billings and Sidney is up to MODERATE now, and the sky is generally hazy, especially in far eastern and southeastern Montana. This, too, should change throughout the day as the cold front makes it all the way across the state. Unfortunately, Red Flag Warnings are all over Montana, east of the Divide, effective through tonight. We are expecting some very strong winds today, which will help to blow this smoke out of the region, but may fan fires to the point of heavy smoke production again. Another update will come this afternoon with the most current smoke conditions, fire activity, and a forecast. Please see "Today's Report and Forecast" (left). Another air quality update and forecast will come this afternoon.
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 6:45 yesterday (August 23). Very heavy amounts of smoke were across the region, and Idaho fires caused very poor air quality and visibility last night.  

This is the visible satellite image from 6:45 yesterday (August 23). Very heavy amounts of smoke were across the region, and Idaho fires caused very poor air quality and visibility last night.


 
Although the air quality is clearly not perfect, at least we can see the mountains—and even some details—across from Hamilton this morning!

Although the air quality is clearly not perfect, at least we can see the mountains—and even some details—across from Hamilton this morning!





 

Smoke was heavy in Gardiner yesterday, and it continues to hang around near Yellowstone this morning. This webcam looks across the Yellowstone River and onto Electric Peak, which is in the park. The peak is hardly visible this morning. Smoke has created visibility problems in Yellowstone recently—a tough time for visitors!

Smoke was heavy in Gardiner yesterday, and it continues to hang around near Yellowstone this morning. This webcam looks across the Yellowstone River and onto Electric Peak, which is in the park. The peak is hardly visible this morning. Smoke has created visibility problems in Yellowstone recently—a tough time for visitors!

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, B8
  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  West Yellowstone B24
Butte B24
  Moderate

 Billings B24, B8
Bozeman B24, B8
Sidney B24
Frenchtown B24
 

  Good

 Libby
Flathead Valley
Seeley Lake
Helena
Missoula
 

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.