Alex pointed out that much of the west was red flagged for high winds and high temperatures. The MODIS RGB images (below left, for entire west and below right, for the lee of the Rockies) show that new fires have popped up throughout the region. Severe smoke is seen from eastern Washington all the way through to Nebraska. (There is a bit of a glitch in the MODIS KML over northern Idaho in the high resolution image, ie. the white box). There are at least four new fires in eastern Montana and Wyoming (although one could be the previously named "Sheepherder Fire". We are really struggling to find info on some of the sites today. AIRNOW has not updated imagery since Thursday. The Large Incidents page at the USDA shows fire names but is not updating info on the fires. Hopefully, these glitches will improve next week.
AOD retrievals for the fires show that AOD's over 1. The main part of the smoke plumes are identified as cloud in both MODIS and NOAA GASP images. This indicates generally that the AOD > 2. The level 1.0 AOD in Grand Forks, ND reached 0.4 on the 500 nm channel late today.
In Southern California, AQ levels were in the moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups range. AOD was elevated over the city today in MODIS Terra data (below right).
Update: Sept 16, 2012 18:00 EST
More fires are burning in Washington today and the smoke plume across the country is really impressive. Smoke covers the northern states from Washington all the way through to Indiana. It is likely that this smoke will be over the East Coast tomorrow but it will get tangled up in a rapidly moving system that will bring significant cloudiness and heavy (1-2") of rain to the mid-Atlantic states tomorrow night. Much of this smoke will either swing north into Canada or be rained out by this system.
We are still struggling to find data from AIRNOW which is still off-line with much of their graphics. I could pull up ground concentrations in Idaho today from AIRNOWTech. The concentrations are extremely high and over 300 µg m-3 for PM2.5 in Salmon Idaho. Note the left axis in the plot below is 400 µg m-3!