Wildfire Smoke Updates Home | Archived Wildfire Smoke Updates | Today's Air

Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Thursday, September 27, 2012 3:52 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Although in most locations it is very gradual, nevertheless, hourly particulate concentrations are rising in some places. Hourly particulate concentrations are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in Hamilton, and cumulative exposures are UNHEALTHY. In Missoula, Butte, and Frenchtown, hourly concentrations have increased to MODERATE, and cumulative averages are still UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Smoke from the Condon Mountain Fire is very visible in the Swan Valley (see the colored satellite image below), and hourly particulate concentrations have become MODERATE with cumulative exposures that are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Smoke is traveling down the valley and is starting to pour into the Flathead Valley, where air quality has recently become MODERATE. Elsewhere, hourly concentrations have held steady at GOOD levels in Helena, Bozeman, Billings, Great Falls, and Sidney, but cumulative concentrations remain MODERATE.

Wildfire smoke will be the heaviest in the Bitterroot, Missoula, Swan, and Flathead Valleys tonight and tomorrow. The ridge of high pressure is building today and the air is very stable. This is very clear in the colored satellite image below, where the smoke is staying only in the Swan Valley, instead of lifting over the mountains. The stable air will be in place tomorrow and similar smoke conditions are expected. The ridge of high pressure will be the dominant weather feature through the beginning of next week. A weak cold front will move across northern Montana late Saturday through Sunday, but it should have little to no effect on the air quality. Smoke will just slowly settle back into most of the western valleys until our next big weather system. The timing is still unknown at this point, but a big change in the weather is expected by the middle to end of next week. A strong cold front will drop temperatures below normal, and we may even see some precipitation from this. As the details come together, I will let you know exactly what to expect. Stay tuned!
Hourly particulate concentrations are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in Hamilton, and cumulative exposures are UNHEALTHY. In Missoula, Butte, and Frenchtown, hourly concentrations have increased to MODERATE, and cumulative averages are still UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Smoke from the Condon Mountain Fire is very visible in the Swan Valley (see the colored satellite image below), and hourly particulate concentrations have become MODERATE with cumulative exposures that are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Smoke is traveling down the valley and is starting to pour into the Flathead Valley, where air quality has recently become MODERATE. Elsewhere, hourly concentrations have held steady at GOOD levels in Helena, Bozeman, Billings, Great Falls, and Sidney, but cumulative concentrations remain MODERATE.
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 2:00 this afternoon.  

This is the visible satellite image from 2:00 this afternoon.


 
This is a high-definition, visible satellite image from this afternoon. Here, you can clearly see the smoke in the Swan Valley which is flowing into the Flathead Valley. You can also see the smoke in the Idaho valleys, just west of the Bitterroot.

This is a high-definition, visible satellite image from this afternoon. Here, you can clearly see the smoke in the Swan Valley which is flowing into the Flathead Valley. You can also see the smoke in the Idaho valleys, just west of the Bitterroot.


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

 Helena B24
Bozeman B24
Billings B24
Great Falls B24
Sidney B24
Flathead Valley B24, B8, B1
Dillon 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.