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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Monday, September 17, 2012 8:41 AM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
With atmospheric winds continuing to blow from the north and northwest, air quality is continuing to improve across much of Montana. Cumulative particulate concentrations in several locations are still MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, but hourly concentrations in these locations have been GOOD for almost 24 hours. Some of these cities include Missoula, Butte, and Bozeman, just to name a few. Some smoke is in the air in these places, creating a colored sunrise and hazy horizon, but air quality is not being affected this morning. The heaviest, ground-level smoke is still found in the Bitterroot Valley and in far southwestern Montana. Hourly concentrations in Hamilton this morning have been UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS to UNHEALTHY, but cumulative exposures are still HAZARDOUS.

For the rest of today, expect the Bitterroot Valley and southwestern Montana (the areas in Beaverhead and Madison Counties) to stay smoky. In nearby places, like Missoula, Butte, and Bozeman, where smoke is hanging high in the air this morning, hourly concentrations may jump to MODERATE as the air mixes and pulls some of the smoke to the ground. However, if air quality does get a little bit worse this afternoon, it should improve back to GOOD by this evening. All other regions should stay GOOD today, except for locations immediately near the Dugan and Welder fires in eastern Montana.

Another update will come this afternoon with the latest fire activity, smoke conditions, and a full forecast for the week ahead.
Please see "Today's Report and Forecast" (left). Another update will come 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 7:30 this morning. Because the sun is rising later and later each day, it takes longer for the visible satellite images to get to the internet, because these types of images require sunlight. In the image below, western Montana is still in the darkness, but the sun is shining enough on eastern Montana to show some clouds over the region.  

This is the visible satellite image from 7:30 this morning. Because the sun is rising later and later each day, it takes longer for the visible satellite images to get to the internet, because these types of images require sunlight. In the image below, western Montana is still in the darkness, but the sun is shining enough on eastern Montana to show some clouds over the region.


 
This is the view of Belgrade this morning. With the sun rising over the Bridger Mountains, it looks very smoky. However, if you remember the rules to using the visibility guidelines, you will recall that to make the most accurate visibility determination, the sun needs to be at your back. Or else, the sun essentially makes it look like there is more smoke than there actually is, which is the case here.

This is the view of Belgrade this morning. With the sun rising over the Bridger Mountains, it looks very smoky. However, if you remember the rules to using the <a href="http://www.deq.mt.gov/FireUpdates/VisibilityRanges.mcpx">visibility guidelines</a>, you will recall that to make the most accurate visibility determination, the sun needs to be at your back. Or else, the sun essentially makes it look like there is more smoke than there actually is, which is the case here.





 




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
  Very Unhealthy  
  Unhealthy  
  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  Butte B24
Bozeman B24
Missoula B24
-All hourly concentrations have been GOOD-
  Moderate

 West Yellowstone B24
Frenchtown B24
Seeley Lake B24
Libby B24
-All hourly concentrations have been GOOD-
 

  Good

 Helena
Sidney
Billings
Great Falls
Flathead Valley
 

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.