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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Sunday, September 2, 2012 1:00 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Thanks to the cold front and a change in direction of high atmospheric winds, air quality has finally improved across much of the northern half of Montana. The Flathead Valley, Swan Valley, Great Falls, and east of the Rocky Mountain Front are finally seeing GOOD air quality and higher visibility. Atmospheric winds are blowing from the west, and with little to no fires upwind of this half of Montana, only mostly clear air is blowing in. There is, however, a new fire in Glacier National Park, but only some parts of the east side of the park may see a decrease in visibility. Unfortunately, air quality is not good everywhere, because the southern half of Montana is still downwind of all the smoke. Air quality has improved in Missoula, but visibility is still obscured by some high smoke. The Bitterroot Valley, once again, has UNHEALTHY air, although hourly particulate concentrations have been dropping this morning to more MODERATE levels. Air quality in Butte has become UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS this morning, as smoke blows east over southwestern Montana. Similar conditions exist to the south and west of Butte. Just in the last few hours this morning, air quality has become MODERATE in the Helena Valley. Smoke has cleared out of Bozeman, which is now GOOD, but smoke is accumulating around the Livingston area, where air quality is MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Almost all other locations across eastern Montana are GOOD with some local regions of MODERATE smoke where haze is apparent.

Red Flag Warnings are over almost the entire state today, except all of the western counties, until 9:00 tonight. We are expecting more gusty winds and very low relative humidities. High atmospheric winds will continue to blow from the west all day, and with most of the fires in the region in central and southern Idaho, as well as some Montana fires in the southern half of the state, the southern half of Montana will continue to see all of the smoke today. By late afternoon and evening, smoke will be the heaviest. The Bitterroot Valley and near Livingston will probably see the heaviest smoke today. Similar conditions will be expected tomorrow, as the wind pattern will stay relatively the same. However, the good news is that winds will not be as strong, and relative humidities will not be quite as low, so fire behavior should not be as extreme tomorrow as it may be later today. By Tuesday, a weather system is forecasted to pass over the Northern Rockies. Winds will start to pick up again Tuesday into Wednesday, which may increase fire activity again. Winds should continue to keep northern Montana mostly clear. A stronger weather system and cold front are expected on Thursday. There may even be a chance of some beneficial rain, though it will be limited. Temperatures will become cooler than normal on Thursday and Friday, but it will be short-lived as a weekend warm-up ushers in. Atmospheric winds will start to blow from the southwest, so areas of northwestern and north-central Montana that may be clear all week could start to see more smoke and decreasing air quality this weekend.
See "Today's Report and Forecast" (left).
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 11:30 this morning. Skies are mostly clear. Although it is not really visible in this image, there is a thin layer of high smoke across the southern half of Montana. What is a little bit more visible, is the smoke in and around the Bitterroot and other Idaho valleys. 

This is the visible satellite image from 11:30 this morning. Skies are mostly clear. Although it is not really visible in this image, there is a thin layer of high smoke across the southern half of Montana. What is a little bit more visible, is the smoke in and around the Bitterroot and other Idaho valleys.


 





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  Hamilton B24, B8
  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  Butte B24
  Moderate

 Sidney B24, B8
Helena B24
 

  Good

 Libby
Flathead Valley
Frenchtown
Missoula
Seeley Lake
Billings
Bozeman
Great Falls B1
West Yellowstone
 

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.