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Wildfire Smoke Update
for
Friday, May 31, 2019 9:25 AM

Satellite Photos | Locations and Smoke Conditions


Today's Report and Forecast Today's Summary
Dense smoke arrived in Montana overnight, blanketing the area along the Rocky Mountain Front down to Helena with smoke. As of 9am, air quality is UNHEALTHY in Helena, and UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in Butte, Great Falls and Lewistown. Visibility observations this morning from Cut Bank down to Bozeman and east to Lewistown also indicate UNHEALTHY to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS air quality. Elsewhere, air quality is MODERATE in Broadus, Dillon, Frenchtown, Missoula, Columbia Falls, and Malta.

The fires in northern Alberta are to blame for the influx of smoke to the region. Northerly winds carried smoke from the fires south towards Montana yesterday, with dense smoke moving in overnight. These fires remain out of control, producing an enormous amount of smoke. More information about these fires can be found here.

The good news is the transport wind direction over the fires is shifting, cutting off the flow of smoke down from Canada. Unfortunately, we will likely see smoke persist throughout the day in Montana. Air quality should slowly improve in many areas over the next few hours as daytime heating will help to lift the smoke up off the ground. Thunderstorms are expected to roll through the state today. These storms may help briefly improve air quality in areas that see heavy rain. Overall, air quality along the Rocky Mountain Front will likely remain UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS to UNHEALTHY, possibly improving to MODERATE by late afternoon. Areas west of the Divide will likely fare better with the mountains acting to block some of the smoke. Air quality west of the Divide will likely range from GOOD to MODERATE. Any smoke that doesn’t clear by this evening will likely settle back down to the surface tonight, causing air quality to deteriorate once again. Warm temperatures on Saturday will once again help slowly lift out the smoke. By Sunday afternoon, we should see widespread improvement across Montana, with air quality expected to range from GOOD to MODERATE.
Dense smoke from Alberta moved down into Montana overnight, bringing UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS to UNHEALTHY air quality along the Rocky Mountain Front, east to Great Falls and extending down to Bozeman. This smoke will likely persist throughout the day, improving slightly during the afternoon as daytime heating helps lift the smoke. Fortunately, smoke from the fires is expected to be redirected away from Montana, which will allow air quality to slowly improve over the next day or so. By Sunday, we should see improved air quality across the region.
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




Satellite imagery shows smoke under clouds in Montana.  

Satellite imagery shows smoke under clouds in Montana.
Source: CIRA and NOAA

 
Smoke forecasts shows continued smoke impacts to much of Montana today, with the worst impacts in north central Montana. Below, the smoke forecast at 4pm Friday.

Smoke forecasts shows continued smoke impacts to much of Montana today, with the worst impacts in north central Montana. Below, the smoke forecast at 4pm Friday.
Source: Government of Canada

By Saturday afternoon, conditions are expected to improve. Below, the smoke forecast at 4pm Saturday.

By Saturday afternoon, conditions are expected to improve. Below, the smoke forecast at 4pm Saturday.

Source: Government of Canada 

Air quality in Helena is unhealthy this morning.

Air quality in Helena is unhealthy this morning.
Source:

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  Helena
  Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  Bozeman
Butte
Great Falls
Lewistown
  Moderate

 Broadus
Columbia Falls
Dillon
Frenchtown
Malta
Missoula
 

  Good

 All other reporting locations. 

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.