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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Monday, October 8, 2012 10:50 AM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Late yesterday evening, wildfire smoke came across Montana’s west border from Idaho. For almost a week, atmospheric winds have kept Idaho’s wildfire smoke out of Montana and the Bitterroot and Missoula Valleys have enjoyed mostly smoke-free air. However, last night and this morning, wildfire smoke is back in the valleys. Cumulative smoke exposures in Hamilton are UNHEALTHY and hourly concentrations are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Cumulative smoke exposures are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in Missoula, and hourly concentrations have been GOOD to MODERATE. Likewise in nearby Frenchtown, cumulative exposures have been MODERATE and hourly concentrations are reaching levels that are also MODERATE. Air quality is also becoming MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in Butte. The smoke is mostly confined to far western Montana, as other locations are GOOD and not yet affected by wildfire smoke. A weather disturbance is currently passing across Montana, and some precipitation is falling in the central plains. Far western Montana will not see much of the good dispersion and mixing from this disturbance, which will stay mostly east of the mountains. However, atmospheric winds will slightly change direction today as the disturbance passes. Instead of blowing from the west, winds will come generally from the northwest by this evening. This should provide some relief for the Missoula area, but the Bitterroot Valley, Butte, and other southwestern valleys may still see wildfire smoke tonight and tomorrow. For the rest of the week, there will be small weather disturbances that will pass across the state. These disturbances will help to prevent very stagnant air from developing, so wildfire smoke will come and go. Smoke will remain in higher concentrations and for longer periods of time in the Bitterroot Valley because of its close proximity to Idaho’s wildfires, but elsewhere, smoke will be fairly heavy at times and light in other times. Most of this smoke will remain confined to the Missoula area, near Butte, and the southwestern valleys. Helena and Bozeman may even see periods of hazy skies. Cumulative smoke exposures in Hamilton are UNHEALTHY and hourly concentrations are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Cumulative smoke exposures are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in Missoula, and hourly concentrations have been GOOD to MODERATE. Likewise in nearby Frenchtown, cumulative exposures have been MODERATE and hourly concentrations are reaching levels that are also MODERATE. Air quality is also becoming MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in Butte. The smoke is mostly confined to far western Montana, as other locations are GOOD and not yet affected by wildfire smoke.
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 10:00 this morning. Clouds are across the region because of the weather disturbance that is passing right now. 

This is the visible satellite image from 10:00 this morning. Clouds are across the region because of the weather disturbance that is passing right now.


 
This is a high-definition, colored satellite image from yesterday afternoon, October 7. Here, we can clearly see the wildfire smoke coming across the border and into the Bitterroot Valley, which is in the center of the image.

This is a high-definition, colored satellite image from yesterday afternoon, October 7. Here, we can clearly see the wildfire smoke coming across the border and into the Bitterroot Valley, which is in the center of the 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 

This is the webcam in Hamilton this morning, showing decreased visibility from wildfire smoke again.

This is the webcam in Hamilton this morning, showing decreased visibility from wildfire smoke again.

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  Missoula B24, B8
Butte B8
  Moderate

 Seeley Lake B24, B8
Frenchtown B24, B8
 

  Good

 Libby
Flathead Valley
Helena
Bozeman
Great Falls
West Yellowstone
Billings
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.