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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Friday, September 28, 2012 3:45 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Air quality is getting worse across western Montana, as a ridge of high pressure keeps stagnant air and wildfire smoke in the region. Both cumulative and hourly particulate concentrations have generally increased at monitoring locations. Hourly concentrations have become MODERATE in Butte and Seeley Lake, and cumulative exposures are all UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Hourly concentrations are also very close to becoming MODERATE in the Flathead Valley, Great Falls, and Helena, and similarly, cumulative exposures are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Air quality is UNHEALTHY in Hamilton, UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in Missoula and Frenchtown, and GOOD in far eastern Montana. Finally, cumulative exposures are MODERATE in Libby, Bozeman, West Yellowstone, Billings, and Dillon, but hourly concentrations have been GOOD all day.

Winds are blowing wildfire smoke to the east, as seen in the colored satellite image below. Stable air tonight will keep wildfire smoke in the valleys tonight and tomorrow morning. A weak disturbance will pass across Montana tomorrow, so winds will become a little breezy during the day. However, wildfire smoke should remain in most western valleys. On Sunday and Monday, the air will become calm again as the ridge of high pressure remains over us. Air quality will continue to be impacted by wildfire smoke during this time. Temperatures will also warm up ahead of a cold front that should arrive sometime on Tuesday. Winds will start to pick up late Monday and will be very breezy on Tuesday. Winds and low relative humidities may create critical fire weather conditions Monday and Tuesday. The cold front will drop from the north and some precipitation is expected. At this time, the highest chance for any low-level precipitation is across north-central Montana, but the forecast is still uncertain. Mountain snow may also fall along the Rocky Mountain Front and in the Big and Little Belts. However, there is still a slight chance that rain and/or snow will spread into western and southern Montana. By Wednesday, temperatures will be much colder and wildfire smoke should have minimal air quality impacts. Another cold front may pass at the end of next week, to reinforce the cooler air, provide another chance for precipitation, and clear wildfire smoke again.
Hourly concentrations have become MODERATE in Butte and Seeley Lake, and cumulative exposures are all UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Hourly concentrations are also very close to becoming MODERATE in the Flathead Valley, Great Falls, and Helena, and similarly, cumulative exposures are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Air quality is UNHEALTHY in Hamilton, UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in Missoula and Frenchtown, and GOOD in far eastern Montana. Finally, cumulative exposures are MODERATE in Libby, Bozeman, West Yellowstone, Billings, and Dillon, but hourly concentrations have been GOOD all day.
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 2:30 this afternoon. The plume-shaped feature that is extending from the Ovando Valley to West Yellowstone is actually just a cloud—not a plume of wildfire smoke! However, wildfire smoke is visible in eastern Idaho and into the Bitterroot Valley. 

This is the visible satellite image from 2:30 this afternoon. The plume-shaped feature that is extending from the Ovando Valley to West Yellowstone is actually just a cloud—not a plume of wildfire smoke! However, wildfire smoke is visible in eastern Idaho and into the Bitterroot Valley.


 
This is a high-definition, colored satellite image from 1:00 this afternoon. The smoke is more visible in this image, from the valleys of eastern Idaho and over the Bitterroot Valley. Wildfire smoke is also visible in the Swan Valley, and three distinct smoke plumes can be seen in the Bob Marshall Wilderness area.

This is a high-definition, colored satellite image from 1:00 this afternoon. The smoke is more visible in this image, from the valleys of eastern Idaho and over the Bitterroot Valley. Wildfire smoke is also visible in the Swan Valley, and three distinct smoke plumes can be seen in the Bob Marshall Wilderness area.


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

 West Yellowstone B24
Dillon B24
Bozeman B24, B8
Libby B24, B8
Billings B24
 

  Good

 Sidney 

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.