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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Thursday, August 30, 2012 9:39 AM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Much of the smoke produced yesterday across Idaho and Montana has moved on east last night and this morning, and air quality has improved to the west, except extreme southwestern Montana, where smoke has settled into some valleys. Smoke impacts were very heavy in the late afternoon and evening yesterday in the Bitterroot Valley, Butte, Helena, and Bozeman, but since early this morning, smoke has started to clear. Because particulate concentrations were so high late yesterday, cumulative smoke exposures are still very high for the past 24 hours; Helena is UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, Butte and Bozeman are UNHEALTHY, and Hamilton just dropped to UNHEALTHY . However, hourly concentrations this morning in every reporting site except for Hamilton have been GOOD. As you can see in the webcam image below, the Bozeman region still has quite a bit of smoke in the valley, thanks largely to the Millie fire to the south. Hourly particulate concentrations in and around Bozeman are GOOD to MODERATE. Ground-level smoke has also cleared out across eastern Montana this morning, where conditions are mostly GOOD with some MODERATE spots. The Billings area saw an increase in smoke overnight, which has brought cumulative exposure to MODERATE, but hourly concentrations remain GOOD and are decreasing.

Fire weather is not as much of a concern today across the state. Winds will be calmer and temperatures will be cooler to keep humidities a little higher. However, Red Flag Warnings are in effect for just the southwestern portion of Montana through tonight. This area is expecting some stronger southwest winds and lower relative humidities. The unfortunate part is that several extreme fires are within the bounds of the Red Flag Warning, so we may see more smoke production from this region today. Atmospheric winds will blow smoke to the north and northeast. Bozeman may continue to see smoke from the Millie fire today; Butte and the Bitterroot Valley may also see more smoke today. This smoke may even affect air quality downwind late this afternoon, in the Helena region, White Sulphur Springs area, and perhaps even beyond the Big and Little Belts.

There will be another update this afternoon with an update on the fire activity, wildfire smoke, and a forecast.

Note: If you are checking the Today’s Air site frequently today, there are some minor glitches in the home page this morning and the map is not showing up. However, if you click the link to the city that you are interested in, the graph and particulate concentrations will show up on the next page with current information.
See "Today's Report and Forecast" (left). There will be another update this afternoon with an update on the fire activity, wildfire smoke, and a forecast.

Note: If you are checking the Today’s Air site frequently today, there are some minor glitches in the home page this morning and the map is not showing up. However, if you click the link to the city that you are interested in, the graph and particulate concentrations will show up on the next page with current information.
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




In this visible satellite image from 8:30 this morning, you can see the high-level smoke across much of central and eastern Montana this morning. However, as I just said, this smoke is high in the atmosphere and very little of it is affecting air quality at the ground. However, if you look at eastern Idaho, you can make out all of the valleys because the smoke has settled into the valleys there, creating unhealthy air quality.  

In this visible satellite image from 8:30 this morning, you can see the high-level smoke across much of central and eastern Montana this morning. However, as I just said, this smoke is high in the atmosphere and very little of it is affecting air quality at the ground. However, if you look at eastern Idaho, you can make out all of the valleys because the smoke has settled into the valleys there, creating unhealthy air quality.


 
This webcam is at the Belgrade airport, and faces the Bridger Mountains, which are nearly impossible to see because of the smoke. However, the smoke did create a beautifully colorful sunrise this morning over the Gallatin Valley.

This webcam is at the Belgrade airport, and faces the Bridger Mountains, which are nearly impossible to see because of the smoke. However, the smoke did create a beautifully colorful sunrise this morning over the Gallatin Valley.





 

This is the webcam at the Big Hole Pass. Smoke is also in some of the valleys of extreme southwestern Montana this morning.

This is the webcam at the Big Hole Pass. Smoke is also in some of the valleys of extreme southwestern Montana this morning.

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  Butte B24
Bozeman B24
-Both hourly concentrations are GOOD-

Hamilton B24, B8
  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  Helena B24
-Hourly concentrations are GOOD-
  Moderate

 Great Falls B24
Billings B24
Sidney B24
-All hourly concentrations are GOOD-
 

  Good

 West Yellowstone
Libby
Flathead Valley
Frenchtown
Missoula
Seeley Lake
 

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.