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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Saturday, September 15, 2012 6:58 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Air quality is very poor and even dangerous across large parts of the state today. Not only are we dealing with heavy smoke from Idaho, but moderate amounts of smoke from Oregon and Washington are mixing with Idaho and Montana’s smoke. Despite some clouds, you can see the satellite image below and how fuzzy/gray the colors are across Montana with the whiter clouds on top. The light gray color is smoke, and it is everywhere. Cumulative particulate concentrations in Hamilton are HAZARDOUS and hourly concentrations have been VERY UNHEALTHY today. Cumulative concentrations are VERY UNHEALTHY in Missoula and Frenchtown, and hourly concentrations are UNHEALTHY. Hourly concentrations have been UNHEALTHY in Butte, and cumulative concentrations are also UNHEALTHY in Helena. Hourly concentrations have been GOOD in Bozeman, except for the last couple hours which have reached levels that are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. However, cumulative concentrations are UNHEALTHY in Great Falls, but hourly concentrations have trended down to GOOD. The heavy area of smoke that was around Great Falls earlier today is moving east, so conditions will become worse downwind of Great Falls. With at least some smoke across the state, air quality conditions are GOOD along the southern and northern borders, and at least MODERATE everywhere in the middle. Now that smoke is blowing in from somewhere besides Idaho, northwestern Montana is seeing smoke as well, ranging from MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS.

A cold front is currently moving south across the state, although its effects are minimal right now. Unfortunately, it only seems to be making the smoke worse today. However, throughout the day on Sunday, high atmospheric winds will change from westerly (which is why Montana is seeing so much smoke from fires upwind in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington), to northwesterly and northerly. There are little to no fires upwind of Montana when the wind is from the north, so smoke will start to clear on Sunday. It will be somewhat gradual because the wind will change throughout the day, and because there is so much smoke to clear. Clearing will start from the north and work its way down, so northwestern Montana’s air quality will improve before southwestern Montana’s. This wind direction will persist for the next few days, so smoke impacts should become less and less.

I apologize for not providing a smoke update yesterday evening (Friday evening) as I said I would. I experienced some technical difficulties which have now been worked out. I will be back online every day through the end of fire season!
Cumulative particulate concentrations in Hamilton are HAZARDOUS and hourly concentrations have been VERY UNHEALTHY today. Cumulative concentrations are VERY UNHEALTHY in Missoula and Frenchtown, and hourly concentrations are UNHEALTHY. Hourly concentrations have been UNHEALTHY in Butte, and cumulative concentrations are also UNHEALTHY in Helena. Hourly concentrations have been GOOD in Bozeman, except for the last couple hours which have reached levels that are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. However, cumulative concentrations are UNHEALTHY in Great Falls, but hourly concentrations have trended down to GOOD. The heavy area of smoke that was around Great Falls earlier today is moving east, so conditions will become worse downwind of Great Falls. With at least some smoke across the state, air quality conditions are GOOD along the southern and northern borders, and at least MODERATE everywhere in the middle. Now that smoke is blowing in from somewhere besides Idaho, northwestern Montana is seeing smoke as well, ranging from MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS.
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 5:30 this evening. Although there are clouds across the state, the smoke is so heavy that you can see it under the clouds.  

This is the visible satellite image from 5:30 this evening. Although there are clouds across the state, the smoke is so heavy that you can see it under the clouds.


 





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 




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

 Libby B24
Sidney B24, B8
Billings B24
 

  Good

 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.