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Monday, August 31, 2015

08/31/2015 Idaho DEQ Smoke Forecast

Updated Noon MDT Monday, August 31, 2015

Valid through: Noon MDT Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Smoke Outlook

Air quality is currently ranging from Good to Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups in all of Idaho with higher hourly impacts across the Clearwater Basin Drainage and the Salmon-Challis area.  Air quality is forecast to remain in Moderate to Unhealthy category for the 24hr standard across central Idaho today while northern Idaho has seen some improvement and is forecast to be in the Good to Moderate category. Southern Idaho remains in the Good category.  Impacts are from regional fires burning in Washington State, California, Oregon, and a multitude of local fires in the Clearwater drainage, the northern Panhandle, and Central Idaho Mountains.

Nez Perce Reservation:  24-hour monitor readings range from Good to Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups.  Hourly readings are fluctuating from Moderate to Unhealthy, depending on location and wind direction.  The Nez Perce Tribe will continue their Air Quality Advisory.  Please contact the Nez Perce Tribe for more information: airquality@nezperce.org.

For the remainder of Monday, expect partly to mostly cloudy skies and wind speeds from 5-10 mph in the southeast, 2-8 mph in the southwest, and 8-12 mph across the northern Panhandle.  Generally speaking, the winds at the surface will be from the southwest-west with regions of northwest within the Treasure Valley and over the Clearwater drainages.  There may be light showers over elevated regions across the state this afternoon in extreme northern Idaho.  On Tuesday, a more southwesterly flow pattern will establish as an upper level low settles of Haida Gwaii.  This will continue to allow drier and warmer conditions to establish before the system moves east and brings cooler, stormier weather.  This may allow for an increase in fire activity in the short term.

The strongest smoke impacts are occurring across the Clearwater drainages, Central Idaho Mountains, and the northern Panhandle with lighter impacts in the McCall region.  Expect to experience impacts from the Canada border south to the Salmon River corridor with some drainage impacts into the McCall and the Lower Treasure Valley areas tonight.  The highest impacts are expected to be within the drainages of the Clearwater, Salmon, Lochsa, down into the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley.  The northern tier of the Purcell Trench will also continue to experience impacts with some clearing from Moscow north to Sandpoint.  In southern Idaho, impacts will be greatest within the drainages around McCall and the Lower Treasure Valley and generally north (and including) of a line running from Weiser to Salmon.  Conditions have generally improved across all of Idaho with values in the Good and Moderate range across all monitors except for Cottonwood, which is reading Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups.  Nighttime drainage smoke will continue to provide impacts in regions near and downwind of the fires.  Impacts in the central Idaho region will continue to be the greatest into Wednesday as fire activity is likely to increase. Fires burning in northeast Oregon and southeast Washington will continue to add smoke into the Palouse region.  Clearing should be expected over the open expanses with greater improvement possible from Wednesday on through the weekend.

DEQ AiQuality Advisories:

Idaho DEQ has issued an Air Quality Advisory:
·         Lewiston Regional Office for  Latah, Nez Perce, Lewis, Clearwater, Idaho Counties, river corridors and surrounding areas (off the Nez Perce Reservation) through September 1st at 10:00am when it will be extended or lifted.

·         Idaho Falls Regional Office for Lemhi County and Custer County until August 31st at 3:00pm when it will be extended or lifted.
View DEQ near-real time monitoring at: http://airquality.deq.idaho.gov/

 The USFS installed monitors in Riggins, ID, Halfway, OR, and Newport, WA.  The information can be found at http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/smoke.pl
·         Riggins, ID monitor is Smoke USFS R1-306
·         Halfway, OR monitor is Smoke #68
·         Users should be aware that the Forest Service site reports the data in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).  To convert from UTC to Mountain Daylight Time, subtract 6 hours.

Smoke forecasts are dependent on predicted fire growth and weather.  If conditions change unexpectedly, impacts could occur.  When visibility starts to go below 5 miles, sensitive groups should minimize outdoor activities.  Everyone else should minimize prolonged or physical activity outdoors.  Visit the Idaho Smoke Blog for more information at http://idsmoke.blogspot.com/


Your eyes are your best tools to determine if it’s safe to be outside.  Even if you smell smoke, the air quality may still be good. 



AQI Category
Visibility (miles)
Good
11+
Moderate
6-10
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
3-5
Unhealthy
1½  -2¾
Very Unhealthy
1-1¼ 
Hazardous
Less than 1

How to estimate air quality based on visibility for areas without an air quality monitor or airport visibility estimate:

a. Face away from the sun.
b. Determine the limit of your visible range by looking for targets at known distances (miles).
c. Visible range is when an object you can easily see in the distance disappears.
d. Use the visibility values above to determine the local wildfire smoke category.