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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Saturday, September 29, 2012 6:00 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Air quality is being impacted by wildfire smoke in the region today. A weather disturbance started passing across the state this morning, and is in eastern Montana at this hour. It brought some clouds and a few sprinkles to parts of Montana, but overall, it did not do much to improve the air quality. Cumulative smoke exposures in Missoula are UNHEALTHY, but hourly concentrations have been GOOD to MODERATE. Cumulative smoke exposures are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in Hamilton, Frenchtown, Seeley Lake, the Flathead Valley, Great Falls, and Helena, but hourly concentrations have also been GOOD to MODERATE. Cumulative particulate concentrations are MODERATE in Libby, Butte, and Bozeman, while hourly concentrations have been GOOD. Finally, air quality has been monitored to be GOOD today in Dillon, West Yellowstone, Billings, and Sidney. Overall, the west-central valleys, even those not named above, are generally UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Parts of southwestern Montana are MODERATE to GOOD. Air quality in the plains is generally GOOD except around Great Falls, where wildfires are still active in and around the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

Air quality will remain steady as it is or, more likely, will get worse in the next two days. A ridge of high pressure will be over the region which will result in very stable air. Temperatures will also become very warm; west to southwest winds will blow smoke to the east and northeast, which should continue to blow smoke from Idaho’s wildfires over western Montana. Winds will start to increase on Monday ahead of a weather system on Tuesday. Winds will be very strong off the Rocky Mountain Front especially, but winds, high temperatures, and low relative humidities may create dangerous fire conditions on Monday. This may put more smoke into the area, but relief will be soon to follow. A large low pressure system will drop a cold front across Montana on Tuesday. Winds will continue to be strong ahead and along the cold front. The front will drop from the north and at least some precipitation is expected behind the front. Some rain and/or snow will fall at low elevations, but few showers will reach southwestern Montana or even into Idaho, where precipitation would have helped the wildfires. Nonetheless, mountain snow is likely along the Rocky Mountain Front, the Big and Little Belts, and some of the island chains in central Montana. Temperatures will cool down quickly, and temperatures will be well below normal by Wednesday. This cool air will last through the end of the week, and chances for precipitation will be off-and-on during those days. Atmospheric winds will blow from the northwest and the air will remain generally unstable, so air quality should be GOOD in almost all locations by the end of the week.
Cumulative smoke exposures in Missoula are UNHEALTHY, but hourly concentrations have been GOOD to MODERATE. Cumulative smoke exposures are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in Hamilton, Frenchtown, Seeley Lake, the Flathead Valley, Great Falls, and Helena, but hourly concentrations have also been GOOD to MODERATE. Cumulative particulate concentrations are MODERATE in Libby, Butte, and Bozeman, while hourly concentrations have been GOOD. Finally, air quality has been monitored to be GOOD today in Dillon, West Yellowstone, Billings, and Sidney. Overall, the west-central valleys, even those not named above, are generally UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Parts of southwestern Montana are MODERATE to GOOD. Air quality in the plains is generally GOOD except around Great Falls, where wildfires are still active in and around the Bob Marshall Wilderness.
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 4:30 this afternoon. Patchy clouds are across the state because of that disturbance that passed through today. 

This is the visible satellite image from 4:30 this afternoon. Patchy clouds are across the state because of that disturbance that passed through today.


 
This webcam is from Hamilton this morning and here is a sight that hasn’t been seen in many weeks—a clear view of the mountains!

This webcam is from Hamilton this morning and here is a sight that hasn’t been seen in many weeks—a clear view of the mountains!


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

 Butte B24
Libby B24, B8
Bozeman B24
 

  Good

 Sidney
Billings
Dillon
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.