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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Monday, September 10, 2012 3:59 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Air quality is poor across parts of Montana this afternoon. Cumulative particulate concentrations in Hamilton are VERY UNHEALTHY; cumulative concentrations are UNHEALTHY in Great Falls and Butte, and UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in Missoula, Seeley Lake, Bozeman, Helena, and Sidney. Smoke is impacting the Billings area, but not to the extreme extent as other locations. It is difficult to watch the hourly particulate concentrations during the day because they fluctuate. Hourly concentrations in Missoula and Seeley Lake have trended down, and concentrations in Helena and Sidney have trended up. Smoke conditions can change rapidly in the early afternoon as we are dealing with the tail-end of smoke that was produced yesterday, and awaiting the arrival of the smoke that will be produced today. Looking at the satellite image below, we see that the smoke plumes are starting to come from the west, so that next wave of smoke should come in the next few hours. The fire just west of Hamilton is actually making a very large smoke plume, which isn’t helping the Bitterroot Valley at all.

Tonight, smoke conditions will be similar to last night. The smoke will generally take the same southwest-to-northeast path across Montana, except that tonight, it will be just a little bit farther to the south, and closer to Butte and Bozeman. Red Flag Warnings continue through Tuesday for much of the state, as weather conditions will be similar to today with strong winds and low relative humidities. It is currently going on 24 hours since the cold front passed the state; temperatures are a bit cooler today, but the influx of cold air will continue for the next two days. Each day, temperatures will get cooler and the nights will approach the freezing point on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Winds will still be fairly breezy on Wednesday, as atmospheric winds change direction during the week. By Thursday, those high atmospheric winds should come mostly out of the north and northwest. Fire activity and smoke production should not be quite as extreme for the latter half of the week, but much of southwestern Montana can continue to expect smoke even as the atmospheric winds change direction. Winds should become calm by Friday as a ridge of high pressure moves into the Northern Rockies for the weekend.
Air quality is poor across parts of Montana this afternoon. Cumulative particulate concentrations in Hamilton are VERY UNHEALTHY; cumulative concentrations are UNHEALTHY in Great Falls and Butte, and UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in Missoula, Seeley Lake, Bozeman, Helena, and Sidney. Smoke is impacting the Billings area, but not to the extreme extent as other locations. It is difficult to watch the hourly particulate concentrations during the day because they fluctuate. Hourly concentrations in Missoula and Seeley Lake have trended down, and concentrations in Helena and Sidney have trended up.
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 3:30 this afternoon. You can see the band of high atmospheric smoke from the Bitterroot Valley to the northeast corner of the state. You can also see individual smoke plumes west of Great Falls and right next to Hamilton which are growing in intensity. By this evening, smoke plumes should be well-defined and thick from Idaho over to central Montana. 

This is the visible satellite image from 3:30 this afternoon. You can see the band of high atmospheric smoke from the Bitterroot Valley to the northeast corner of the state. You can also see individual smoke plumes west of Great Falls and right next to Hamilton which are growing in intensity. By this evening, smoke plumes should be well-defined and thick from Idaho over to central Montana.


 
Once again it looks almost like dusk in Hamilton in the middle of this afternoon.

Once again it looks almost like dusk in Hamilton in the middle of this afternoon.


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 purple 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 

The weather station at the airport in Helena says that the visibility is down to four or five miles. This webcam image from Helena validates that claim, because the Scratchgravel Hills that are about five miles away from this webcam are not visible at all.

The weather station at the airport in Helena says that the visibility is down to four or five miles. This webcam image from Helena validates that claim, because the Scratchgravel Hills that are about five miles away from this webcam are not visible at all.

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, B8
  Unhealthy  Butte B24, B8
Great Falls B24
  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  Helena B24, B8, B1
Bozeman B8
Missoula B24
Frenchtown B24
Seeley Lake B24
Sidney B8
  Moderate

 Billings B24, B8 

  Good

 Libby
Flathead Valley
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.