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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Friday, August 24, 2012 11:40 AM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
This is a late-morning update. To see today's first report from 8:40 this morning, please see the "Archived Wildfire Smoke Updates" above.

The cold front and high atmospheric winds are working to push the region of heavy smoke out of the state. Because the sun has been up for a few hours now, visible satellite images are telling a better story of the smoke plumes. The image below shows the cleaner, cooler air in northwest Montana, pushing south and east right now. The line that is now south of Helena and almost south of Butte is heavily responsible for the poor air quality and smoky conditions across the west this mornin. The two images show the progression of this smoke away from the area. Unfortunately for the towns downwind, this means that there will be a period of increasingly poor air quality as it passes. Butte, Bozeman, and West Yellowstone have shown a recent spike in particulate concentrations because of this. See the caption on the images below for more information.

There will be at least one more update this afternoon, before 4:00, with the latest smoke information, fire activity, and a forecast.

This is a late-morning update. To see today's first report from 8:40 this morning, please see the "Archived Wildfire Smoke Updates" above.

There will be at least one more update this afternoon, before 4:00, with the latest smoke information, 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




These satellite images show the progression of the heaviest smoke plumes across the state. The smoke is being steered south and east right now, so at least for now, communities northwest of this line of smoke will see improving air quality.  

These satellite images show the progression of the heaviest smoke plumes across the state. The smoke is being steered south and east right now, so at least for now, communities northwest of this line of smoke will see improving air quality.


 
These two images show how much the smoke has cleared out behind the cold front. The top picture is Missoula yesterday, and the bottom picture is pointing in the same direction in Missoula today.

These two images show how much the smoke has cleared out behind the cold front. The top picture is Missoula yesterday, and the bottom picture is pointing in the same direction in Missoula today.


This webcam image is at the Big Hole Pass in southwestern Montana. The top, left-hand corner of the image shows clearer blue sky that fades into gray on the horizon. This is the edge of that line of smoke seen in the satellite images above.

This webcam image is at the Big Hole Pass in southwestern Montana. The top, left-hand corner of the image shows clearer blue sky that fades into gray on the horizon. This is the edge of that line of smoke seen in the satellite images above.

Red indicates hot spot detected. Grey represents smoke seen by satellite. Fire size is exaggerated for visibility at this scale. To identify individual fires on graphic above go here: https://activefiremaps.fs.fed.us/lg_fire2.php 

This is a map of some major wildfires around the area as reported on InciWeb. There are several active fires northwest of Helena. While the smoke is starting to clear out there, this whole area is still under a Red Flag Warning today. Gusty west and northwest winds may push another round of smoke into Helena and Great Falls this evening, and everywhere in-between. This will be monitored closely, and an update will come this afternoon as fire activity develops.

This is a map of some major wildfires around the area as reported on InciWeb. There are several active fires northwest of Helena. While the smoke is starting to clear out there, this whole area is still under a Red Flag Warning today. Gusty west and northwest winds may push another round of smoke into Helena and Great Falls this evening, and everywhere in-between. This will be monitored closely, and an update will come this afternoon as fire activity develops.

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  West Yellowstone B24(1)
  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  Bozeman B24(1)
Butte B24
Hamilton B8(2)-conditions are improving. Last 3 hours were GOOD
  Moderate

 Billings B24, B8 

  Good

 Libby
Flathead Valley
Frenchtown
Missoula
Seeley Lake
Helena
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.