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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Sunday, August 26, 2012 6:00 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Air quality is still poor across much of Montana this afternoon. Clouds are popping up across much of southwestern, south-central, and western Montana. Some of these clouds are developing into rain and thunderstorms. High atmospheric winds are now blowing from the southwest, and so smoke is really starting to pour into previously clear parts of Montana, like Helena and beyond the Rocky Mountain Front. Winds at the surface, however, are blowing from the east and southeast, so any smoke that doesn’t make it high off the ground in Montana is affecting locations to the west and northwest. In short, the smoke is everywhere. Unfortunately, we are looking at a few more, very critical fire weather days ahead of us, so this smoke will only get worse. Red Flag Warnings are in effect for parts of southern Montana, and Fire Weather Watches are almost everywhere else. It would be likely that Red Flag Warnings are everywhere east of the Divide if not by Monday, then by Tuesday. Thunderstorm chances will stay in the forecast, especially along the western terrain, through tomorrow night. Temperatures will get even warmer tomorrow, and relative humidities will be very low again. On Tuesday, temperatures will be even warmer still, in the mid-90s and near 100. Relative humidities will be very low and the wind will start to pick up ahead of a weather system and cold front which will arrive on Wednesday. Tuesday has the potential to be an extremely smoky day, with poor air quality almost state-wide. On Wednesday, winds will be strong again as the cold front approaches the west in the late morning, and moves across the state throughout the day and into the night. Far eastern Montana will warm up again ahead of the cold front, and fire weather will be critical again. As the front passes, there will be almost no chance of rain, winds will get even stronger, and the wind will shift from the east/southeast to the west/northwest. The end of the week will be cooler and the cold front should push a lot of the smoke out of the region, and high atmospheric winds should divert a lot of smoke away from Montana. We just have to get through a few bad days to see cleaner and clearer air again. Air quality is still poor across much of Montana this afternoon. High atmospheric winds are now blowing from the southwest, and so smoke is really starting to pour into previously clear parts of Montana, like Helena and beyond the Rocky Mountain Front. Even if the air at the surface is generally good, the smoke is everywhere in the atmosphere over Montana today and we are looking at a few more, very critical fire weather days ahead of us, so this smoke will only get worse.
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 5:00 this evening. Clouds are starting to show up across the southwest region of the state, but the light gray ahead of all those clouds is all wildfire smoke. Because there are no clouds here, smoke is easy to see, but smoke is also heavy under much of those clouds. 

This is the visible satellite image from 5:00 this evening. Clouds are starting to show up across the southwest region of the state, but the light gray ahead of all those clouds is all wildfire smoke. Because there are no clouds here, smoke is easy to see, but smoke is also heavy under much of those clouds.


 





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  Billings B24
  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  Hamilton B24, B8
Bozeman B24
West Yellowstone B24
Butte B24
  Moderate

 Missoula
Frenchtown B8
 

  Good

 Libby
Flathead Valley
Seeley Lake
Helena
Great Falls
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.