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Wildfire Smoke Update
Tuesday, October 5, 2021 3:54 PM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions

Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Current Conditions
Smoke is causing widespread MODERATE air quality conditions in Montana today. Warm, dry southwesterly winds stoked existing wildfires in California, Idaho and Montana on Monday 10/4 and Tuesday 10/5. Transport of this smoke has resulted in light to heavy wildfire smoke impacting much of the state today. Satellite images and meteorological data show a significant smoke plume crossing Montana diagonally from the southwest corner and widening over north central and northeastern Montana. The Haystack fire near Boulder, the Alder Creek (and nearby) fires in the Beaverhead National Forest, the Trail Creek fire along the Idaho/Montana border, and the South Moccasin Fire near Lewistown are all showing hotspots from today’s satellite analyses as well.

Please see Inciweb for the latest updates on fire activity.

For wildfire daily reports, see NIFC’s Incident Management Situation Report.

For current Missoula County air quality information, visit Missoula Public Health website.

Overnight, smoke concentrations are expected to rise at many locations due to settling and could enter the UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS. Boulder and Helena are population centers where the highest concentrations are expected in the next 24 hours. Fortunately, a low-pressure trough is expected to enter western Montana Wednesday afternoon which should help clear smoke and act to suppress local fires. The widespread impacts of background smoke should be short-lived.
Wildfire smoke has been causing particulate concentrations to trend upward today across Montana, and many sites are seeing MODERATE levels due to regional smoke impacts. Southwestern Montana, and especially Boulder, has seen considerable smoke impacts over the last couple of weeks due fires in-state, and today there is added background smoke from California and Idaho fires as well. Concentrations measured at all monitors during the daylight hours have remained within thresholds associated with GOOD to MODERATE health risk categories.
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

Today’s satellite shows a significant wisp of smoke above the center of the state. 

Today’s satellite shows a significant wisp of smoke above the center of the state.
Source: GOES 17 West

Today’s satellite smoke analysis shows some heavy smoke along the center of the state.

Today’s satellite smoke analysis shows some heavy smoke along the center of the state.
Source: NOAA HMS Fire and Smoke

HRRR Smoke model shows considerable smoke from the southwest.

HRRR Smoke model shows considerable smoke from the southwest.

Source: NOAA HRRR-Smoke 

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 Effects Categories.

Locations and severity of PM 2.5 particulate values over the past 24 hours from the time above.
Health Effects Categories City
  Very Unhealthy  
  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  

 Seeley Lake, Hamilton, Billings - Lockwood, Havre, Great Falls, Butte, Birney, Frenchtown, Sidney, Helena 


 Flathead Valley, Miles City, Cut Bank, Missoula, Malta, Red Lodge, Libby, West Yellowstone, Lewistown, Dillon, Bozeman, Broadus 

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.