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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Monday, September 10, 2012 8:35 AM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Air quality is very poor across parts of western Montana this morning. Yesterday, under Red Flag conditions, fires in Idaho produced a lot of smoke. Smoke from fires in western Idaho combined with smoke in eastern Idaho and moved northeast across Montana. You can see on the satellite image below, which was from 4:45 yesterday evening, just how thick the smoke was. Underneath the smoke, it looked very much like the sky was overcast or as if a storm was approaching. Cumulative smoke exposure in Hamilton this morning is VERY UNHEALTHY, and hourly concentrations are UNHEALTHY. Cumulative exposure in Missoula, Butte, and Great Falls is UNHEALTHY, while cumulative exposure in Helena, Seeley Lake, and Frenchtown is UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Again referring to the satellite image below, you can see the parts of Montana that were most affected by smoke. Other areas, like the far northwest, down near West Yellowstone, and most of eastern Montana, are GOOD this morning. However, the edges of the “smoke corridor” are slowly spreading outwards, and may affect air quality later this morning. For example, webcam images in Bozeman show a lot of smoke high in the air, so it may not be long before the air monitor shows an increase in particulate concentrations as that smoke spreads.

Red Flag Warnings are still in effect today for almost the entire state. Dangerous fire weather conditions are expected, with gusty winds and low relative humidities. Fire behavior is expected to be extreme and any new fires will spread rapidly. This of course means another smoky day for Montana. High atmospheric winds will blow mostly from the southwest, so a similar southwest-to-northeast smoke projection is expected today. There will be little to no relief for the hardest-hit area of the Bitterroot Valley and surrounding locations.

There will be another update this afternoon with the latest fire activity, smoke conditions, and a full forecast for the week ahead.
See "Today's Report and Forecast" (left). There will be another update this afternoon with the latest fire activity, smoke conditions, and a full forecast for the week ahead.
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 4:45 yesterday evening. You can see the heavy smoke production across western Idaho, which combined with the large fires in eastern Idaho, and spread to the northeast. Air quality under this “smoke corridor” (outlined in red) is the worst across the state, but overnight, that smoke slowly started to spread its boundaries and other locations are seeing an influx of smoke this morning. 

This is the visible satellite image from 4:45 yesterday evening. You can see the heavy smoke production across western Idaho, which combined with the large fires in eastern Idaho, and spread to the northeast. Air quality under this “smoke corridor” (outlined in red) is the worst across the state, but overnight, that smoke slowly started to spread its boundaries and other locations are seeing an influx of smoke this morning.


 
This webcam is in Missoula and with the smoke in the air, the mountains across the valley are not visible.

This webcam is in Missoula and with the smoke in the air, the mountains across the valley are not visible.





 




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

  

  Good

 Libby
Flathead Valley
Sidney
Billings
West Yellowstone
Bozeman
 

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.