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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Tuesday, October 2, 2012 4:00 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
The surface cold front was just crossing the Montana/Canadian border around 3:00 this afternoon. Some precipitation is also showing up on radar around Cut Bank and is moving south with the cold front. Winds are very breezy across the state ahead of the front, and temperatures are quite warm for this time of year. Air quality has been improving in Butte, where hourly concentrations are GOOD and are trending down. Cumulative concentrations in Missoula remain UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, but satellite and webcam images show some smoke starting to come back to the Missoula area. In Hamilton, Seeley Lake, and Helena, smoke levels have generally remained constant, where hourly concentrations have been stayed GOOD, but near MODERATE. Cumulative concentrations in these two locations are also UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Like Missoula, satellite and webcam images show wildfire smoke that is coming back into the Bitterroot Valley, as strong winds stir wildfires again today. Monitored particulate concentrations will soon reflect this increase in smoke, as conditions are rapidly changing in just the last hour. All other locations across the state have seen GOOD air quality today.

Air quality should be GOOD in all locations by Wednesday, as the cold front will have passed through the state. North winds will blow “cleaner air” across Montana, the atmosphere will remain unstable, and the presence of precipitation will keep the air mixed. Rain is expected to change to snow at higher elevations on Wednesday morning, but most low elevations will remain a few degrees too warm for snow accumulation, although snowflakes are very possible. Several inches of snow are expected in the mountains, especially along the Rocky Mountain Front, the Big and Little Belts, and some of the island chains. Most of the precipitation will end by Thursday, but skies should be cloudy. A second weather disturbance will pass on Friday, which may bring more precipitation across the state, especially across the southern border. Atmospheric winds will continue to blow from the north/northwest for the next several days, and western Montana will stay warmer than eastern Montana.
Air quality has been improving in Butte, where hourly concentrations are GOOD and are trending down. Cumulative concentrations in Missoula remain UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, but satellite and webcam images show some smoke starting to come back to the Missoula area. In Hamilton, Seeley Lake, and Helena, smoke levels have generally remained constant, where hourly concentrations have been stayed GOOD, but near MODERATE. Cumulative concentrations in these two locations are also UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Like Missoula, satellite and webcam images show wildfire smoke that is coming back into the Bitterroot Valley, as strong winds stir wildfires again today. Monitored particulate concentrations will soon reflect this increase in smoke, as conditions are rapidly changing in just the last hour. All other locations across the state have seen GOOD air quality today.
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.  

This is the visible satellite image from 2:30 this afternoon.


 
This is the view across the Missoula Valley this afternoon. Some smoke from Idaho that is coming over the mountains and from the Bitterroot Valley is obscuring the long-distance visibility in the top, left-hand corner of this image.

This is the view across the Missoula Valley this afternoon. Some smoke from Idaho that is coming over the mountains and from the Bitterroot Valley is obscuring the long-distance visibility in the top, left-hand corner of this image.


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  
  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  Helena B24
Seeley Lake B24
Hamilton B24, B8
Missoula B24
Frenchtown B24
  Moderate

 Libby B24
Butte B24
Great Falls B24
 

  Good

 Dillon
Sidney
Billings
Flathead Valley
Bozeman
 

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.