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Friday, August 26, 2016

08/26/2016 Idaho DEQ Smoke Forecast

Updated 8am MDT Friday, August 26, 2016

Valid through Noon MDT Monday, August 29, 2016

Smoke Outlook

Air quality is forecast to continue to remain in the Good to Moderate air quality category across the state today.  Current elevated DEQ monitors include Idaho Falls, Franklin, St. Maries, Juliaetta, and Moscow which are all reading in the Moderate Category.  Expect higher readings in the morning before clearing in the afternoon.
                                                  
Expect light surface winds today as a zonal flow regime begins to establish late today.  Surface wind direction will be from northwest-west with southwest winds across the eastern Middle Snake, Upper Snake, and within the Purcell Trench this afternoon.  Skies will be sunny to mostly sunny all day.  Mixing heights will range from 3,000-10,000 feet AGL.  Transport wind speed will be between 5-10 mph and be from the northwest with locally southwest winds that follow the surface flow.  Ventilation is forecast to be POOR in the morning and GOOD in the afternoon with locally MARGINAL ventilation across parts of Payette County.  Inversions are expected to break between 11am-1pm.

This weekend, continued zonal flow will result in warming temperatures each day and light wind speeds.  There will be a cold front passage across northern Idaho on Saturday, which will provide for stronger, gusty winds. Winds will be between 5-10 mph from the west-southwest with higher wind speeds along the Washington/Idaho border with surface winds near 15-20 mph.  Similar wind speeds are also expected across the Upper Snake River Plain.  Locally northwest wind direction across the Treasure Valley at 2-8 mph.  Transport winds will mirror the surface winds with a generally southwest flow pattern.  Mostly sunny skies are expected with no threat of precipitation through Monday. On Sunday, expect similar conditions with lower wind speeds at 5-10 mph across all of Idaho except over the Bitterroots, where speeds will range from 10-15 mph.  The wind direction will be from the southwest with locally northwest winds over the Treasure Valley.

Smoke from the Pioneer Fire will produce smoke that will drain into the Upper Treasure Valley and impact Boise this morning before lifting out.  The Henry’s Creek Fire will cause local impacts across the Upper Snake.  Dispersion this afternoon looks to be good and will promote clearing after the inversion lifts around 12noon-1pm today over southern Idaho.  Tonight, expect smoke to drain into the Ketchum area and into the Snake River Plain via the Arco Desert with impacts from Fairfield to as far east as the Mud Lake area. Tomorrow, the west-southwest winds will push smoke nearly due east and out of the Snake River Plain.  The Rail Fire may produce enough smoke to impact the Lower Treasure Valley. On Saturday night into Sunday, the drainage impacts are expected to remain to the east, down the Little and Big Lost drainages and into the Upper Snake River Plain.  These impacts do not look to be especially heavy. Consistent southwest winds on Sunday will transport the smoke out of the area once the inversions lift.  Expect higher concentrations in the morning and early afternoon prior to the inversion lift before clearing in the afternoon and settling in once more as the sun sets.  This pattern will occur each day.

DEQ Air Quality Forecast and Cautions:
  • The Idaho Falls Regional Office has extended a Stage 1 Air Quality Forecast and Caution for Teton, Bonneville, and Custer Counties. Valid through Friday, August 26th at 4:00 p.m
  •  The Boise Regional Office has extended a Stage 1 Air Quality Forecast and Caution for Boise County.  Valid through Friday, August 26th at 3:00 p.m.

View DEQ near-real time monitoring at: http://airquality.deq.idaho.gov/

The USFS installed monitors near Stanley, Idaho, Garden Valley, Idaho, Centerville, Idaho, and Lowman, Idaho.  Idaho DEQ has installed temporary monitors in Fairfield and Boise (Garden City), Idaho. The information can be found at http://smoke.airfire.org/monitoringReport/#/?ate=LATEST&productType=plotTable.
·         Stanley, ID monitor is Stanley-Idaho 75
·         Lowman, ID monitor is Lowman-Jolene Drive
·         Garden Valley, ID monitor is Garden Valley-Babcock Lane
·         Centerville, ID monitor is Idaho City-Grimes Pass Road
·         Fairfield, ID monitor is Fairfield-Soldier Road
·         Boise, ID monitor is Garden City-Alworth Street

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.