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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Tuesday, September 4, 2012 9:00 AM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
A dry cold front is making its way across the eastern half of the state right now. This cold front will have little to no effect on the western half of Montana today. The front is moving south/southeast and will continue in this manner throughout the day. For this reason, Red Flag Warnings are in effect for eastern Montana until 9:00 tonight. Winds will be gusty in the plains, humidities will be very low, and as the cold front passes, the wind will change direction. All of these conditions are dangerous for rapidly spreading new or current wildfires. Air quality in eastern Montana is mostly GOOD this morning. Cumulative smoke exposure in Billings is UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, but hourly particulate concentrations have been GOOD for the past 13 hours.

Now, to western Montana: air quality is still GOOD in all of the northwest, and all the way down to Missoula and Helena. Late last night, heavy smoke rolled into Helena, making the air UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. However, very early this morning, the smoke cleared out and now the air quality is GOOD. The heaviest smoke is in a corridor from the Bitterroot Valley, over to Butte and Bozeman, and then over past Livingston. Across much of this region, air quality is UNHEALTHY or at least UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. This morning, hourly particulate concentrations in Hamilton have been UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, UNHEALTHY in Butte, and MODERATE in Bozeman. These levels have been holding steady all morning and this will be the smokiest area of the state again today. Red Flag Warnings are in effect for parts of eastern Idaho (where some of those large wildfires are) so, like we have seen almost every day for the past few weeks, expect large smoke plumes to develop late this afternoon and travel west over the southwestern and southern region of the state.

There will be another update this afternoon with the latest smoke conditions, fire activity, and a full forecast.
See "Today's Report and Forecast" (left).

There will be another update this afternoon with the latest smoke conditions, fire activity, and a full 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




This is the visible satellite image from 8:30 this morning. Clouds are across northern Montana in association with that weak weather system and cold front. To the west, for another morning, the outlines of the valleys in eastern Idaho are visible because of the smoke that settled in overnight. 

This is the visible satellite image from 8:30 this morning. Clouds are across northern Montana in association with that weak weather system and cold front. To the west, for another morning, the outlines of the valleys in eastern Idaho are visible because of the smoke that settled in overnight.


 
This image is from Livingston as it looks towards the Absaroka Mountains, which are not visible at all due to the smoke.

This image is from Livingston as it looks towards the Absaroka Mountains, which are not visible at all due to the smoke.


This webcam is at the top of the Bridger Mountains and looks west over the Gallatin Valley, where we also see heavy smoke.

This webcam is at the top of the Bridger Mountains and looks west over the Gallatin Valley, where we also see heavy smoke.

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 

The “Sleeping Giant” in this webcam has not been visible recently because of heavy smoke, but since the smoke cleared out last night in the Helena Valley, we can now see the mountains over 13 miles away.

The “Sleeping Giant” in this webcam has not been visible recently because of heavy smoke, but since the smoke cleared out last night in the Helena Valley, we can now see the mountains over 13 miles away.

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, B8, B1
Hamilton B24, B8
Bozeman B24
  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  
  Moderate

  

  Good

 Libby
Flathead Valley
Frenchtown
Missoula B8, B1
Seeley Lake
Helena B1(4)
Sidney
Great Falls
Billings B8, 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.