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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Wednesday, September 5, 2012 8:50 AM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Smoke and poor air quality is now only contained to a relatively small portion of the state this morning. After a cold front passed across the eastern half of the state yesterday, and high atmospheric winds started to blow from the northwest (which brought that chilly air this morning), smoke was contained in a region from the Bitterroot Valley to Butte to Bozeman, around Livingston and down the Paradise Valley. Actual air quality differs by location in this smoky region, from hourly concentrations that are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in Hamilton with UNHEALTHY cumulative exposures, to hourly concentrations that are GOOD in Bozeman, but cumulative exposures are still UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS and webcam images still show smoke in the Gallatin Valley. Most of the places to the southwest are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS based on visibility, like Dillon and Ennis. Hourly concentrations in West Yellowstone have been very close to MODERATE and cumulative exposures are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Everywhere else across Montana, air quality is GOOD.

Temperatures are quite cool this morning, and those cool temperatures and very high humidities will help to stave off high fire activity for the next few hours. This afternoon will also bring less-than-ideal fire weather conditions, so fire activity and smoke production will be less today than we have seen for several days. High atmospheric winds will slowly change direction today, coming from the northwest this morning to coming from the west by tonight. This will widen that “smoke region” of southwest Montana to come farther north and northeast, but with less smoke production expected today, air quality and visibility will not be as poor as we have seen recently.

Another update will come this afternoon with an update on fire activity, smoke across Montana, and a full forecast.
See "Today's Report and Forecast" (left). Another update will come this afternoon with an update on fire activity, smoke across Montana, 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 7:30 this morning. The west coast is still dark because the sun has not risen there yet, but across the mountain time zone, the sun is shining on the earth and so we can see certain features. Outlined in red is the large region of smoke that was mostly produced yesterday. The arrows indicate the direction of the wind high in the atmosphere, which is helping to steer the smoke away from us. It is important to remember that a lot of this smoke is high in the atmosphere, so we may be able to see that red or hazy color in the sky, but it may not affect the air quality. Across parts of southwestern Montana and eastern Idaho where we can see outlines of valleys, that is where the smoke is affecting air quality at the ground. 

This is the visible satellite image from 7:30 this morning. The west coast is still dark because the sun has not risen there yet, but across the mountain time zone, the sun is shining on the earth and so we can see certain features. Outlined in red is the large region of smoke that was mostly produced yesterday. The arrows indicate the direction of the wind high in the atmosphere, which is helping to steer the smoke away from us. It is important to remember that a lot of this smoke is high in the atmosphere, so we may be able to see that red or hazy color in the sky, but it may not affect the air quality. Across parts of southwestern Montana and eastern Idaho where we can see outlines of valleys, that is where the smoke is affecting air quality at the ground.


 
This webcam is at the Big Hole Pass in southwestern Montana. We can see the smoke in the distance, as well as the general line that distinguishes between the smoke and the sky. This is the kind of smoke in the valleys that affects air quality.

This webcam is at the Big Hole Pass in southwestern Montana. We can see the smoke in the distance, as well as the general line that distinguishes between the smoke and the sky. This is the kind of smoke in the valleys that affects air quality.





 




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

  

  Good

 Libby
Flathead Valley
Seeley Lake
Frenchtown
Missoula
Helena
Great Falls
Billings
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.