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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Monday, August 27, 2012 10:50 AM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Air quality is poor across much of Montana this morning. Great Falls, Missoula, Seeley Lake, and Hamilton are all UNHEALTHY for long-term smoke exposure. Even short-term smoke exposure is MODERATE or UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in all of these locations this morning. A large pulse of smoke was created in Idaho yesterday, and with atmospheric winds blowing the smoke to the north and northeast, all of these locations were right in line to be hit with heavy smoke. Other places, like the hi-line and northeastern Montana are seeing similar smoke conditions that are MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. What is bad news for some has been good news for other parts of the state this morning. That pulse of smoke moved out of southwestern Montana, and air quality has improved to GOOD in Butte, Bozeman, and West Yellowstone, which have seen some of the highest smoke concentrations lately. Air quality in and around Billings has also improved, as winds have pushed smoke from the Delphia fire (east of Roundup) and others in Wyoming away from the immediate region.

Red Flag Warnings are in effect today in parts of eastern Montana, and Fire Weather Watches are almost state-wide for Tuesday. Today will be a critical fire weather day, with hot temperatures, low relative humidities, and some afternoon wind gusts. The atmospheric winds will continue to push smoke to the northeast today. As the fires in Idaho reach that critical point this afternoon, where large smoke plumes will again be visible on satellite images, I am expecting air quality to get worse again late this afternoon and this evening in southwestern Montana. The Bitterroot Valley will continue to take the brunt of the smoke, as Idaho fires seem to line the western boundary of Ravalli County. Everywhere else, the haze and smoke will stay visible in the air, especially along the horizons.

Another update will come this afternoon, with the latest wildfire activity across the region, a smoke update, and a forecast for the week.
See "Today's Report and Forecast" (left) for this morning's smoke conditions.

Another update will come this afternoon, with the latest wildfire activity across the region, a smoke update, and a forecast for the week.
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




It is a little difficult to see on a still image this morning, but a broad area of smoke is across northwestern, northern, and eastern Montana this morning. 

It is a little difficult to see on a still image this morning, but a broad area of smoke is across northwestern, northern, and eastern Montana this morning.


 
This webcam looks across Missoula to Lolo Peak, which is hardly visible this morning because of all of the smoke.

This webcam looks across Missoula to Lolo Peak, which is hardly visible this morning because of all of the smoke.


This webcam is at Lolo Pass, and visibility is very reduced from smoke even at very low distances.

This webcam is at Lolo Pass, and visibility is very reduced from smoke even at very low distances.

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 

Air quality has temporarily improved in Bozeman this morning! It has been several days since the Bridger Mountains were visible on this webcam!

Air quality has temporarily improved in Bozeman this morning! It has been several days since the Bridger Mountains were visible on this webcam!

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  Great Falls B24, B8
Missoula B24, B8
Hamilton B24, B8
Seeley Lake B24
  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  Frenchtown B24, B8
  Moderate

 Flathead Valley B8
Helena B24
Billings B24
Bozeman B24-improving
 

  Good

 West Yellowstone
Sidney
Libby
Butte
 

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.