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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Tuesday, September 25, 2012 3:22 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Air quality is fairly unchanged since this morning’s update. Wildfire smoke is still heavy across parts of western Montana and air quality is poor there. Cumulative smoke exposures are still HAZARDOUS in Hamilton, VERY UNHEALTHY in Missoula, and UNHEALTHY in Frenchtown and Butte. Cumulative exposures are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in Libby, Seeley Lake, and Helena. Most western and northwestern valleys have similar smoke conditions, so even where the air monitor in the Flathead Valley has not been working properly, air quality may very well be UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS as well. Of course, using the visibility guidelines is a great option when air monitors are down or if you are not in any of the towns on the Today’s Air web page. MODERATE amounts of smoke are some southwestern valleys like in Dillon, and in the plains of eastern Montana. Only a narrow region along southern Montana, from West Yellowstone and Bozeman to Billings is GOOD.

A weak weather disturbance and cold front will pass across the state tonight through tomorrow. This front will have little effect—no real precipitation or strong winds—and temperatures will only fall slightly cooler across western Montana tomorrow. However, this may clear a little bit of the smoke out, especially along the northern valleys. Conditions will not become perfect, but air quality may improve to MODERATE conditions in some places. The mostly dry and stable air will return for the end of the week, but another weather disturbance and cold front this weekend may further help to reduce the wildfire smoke and air quality impacts across Montana by Sunday.

The weather system that I mentioned yesterday that may arrive by the middle or end of next week is still there. The amount of widespread moisture is still very uncertain, but hopes are still high that the weather will become more fall-like and more importantly, smoke and air quality conditions may greatly improve.
Cumulative smoke exposures are still HAZARDOUS in Hamilton, VERY UNHEALTHY in Missoula, and UNHEALTHY in Frenchtown and Butte. Cumulative exposures are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in Libby, Seeley Lake, and Helena. Most western and northwestern valleys have similar smoke conditions, so even where the air monitor in the Flathead Valley has not been working properly, air quality may very well be UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS as well. Of course, using the visibility guidelines is a great option when air monitors are down or if you are not in any of the towns on the Today’s Air web page. MODERATE amounts of smoke are some southwestern valleys like in Dillon, and in the plains of eastern Montana. Only a narrow region along southern Montana, from West Yellowstone and Bozeman to Billings is GOOD.
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 2:15 this afternoon. Clouds are across the area because of a few weather disturbances over the region.  

This is the visible satellite image from 2:15 this afternoon. Clouds are across the area because of a few weather disturbances over the region.


 
This is a high-definition, colored satellite image of eastern Montana from 12:30 this afternoon. Fort Peck Lake is near the top-right, and clouds are over the Absaroka/Beartooth Mountains on the bottom-left. Smoke is visible in this image over almost all of eastern Montana, but especially along the eastern edge near the Dakotas.

This is a high-definition, colored satellite image of eastern Montana from 12:30 this afternoon. Fort Peck Lake is near the top-right, and clouds are over the Absaroka/Beartooth Mountains on the bottom-left. Smoke is visible in this image over almost all of eastern Montana, but especially along the eastern edge near the Dakotas.


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
  Very Unhealthy  Missoula B24
  Unhealthy  Frenchtown B24, B8, B1
Butte B24, B8
  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  Seeley Lake B24, B8
Helena B24, B8
Libby B24
  Moderate

 Great Falls B24, B8
Sidney B24, B8
Dillon B24
 

  Good

 West Yellowstone
Bozeman
Billings
 

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.