Current Air Quality and Restrictions:
Air Quality is Moderate to Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
Air Quality: Discussion
UPDATE: July 22, 2017
The surrounding wildfires remained active today, and the Sunrise Fire has dumped quite a bit of smoke in the Frenchtown area. Air quality in Frenchtown is currently Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups and may deteriorate further overnight. When air quality is Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups, people with heart or lung disease, smokers, children and the elderly should limit prolonged outdoor exertion.
Air quality in Missoula is mighty hazy, but conditions are still generally Moderate.
The fires were all active throughout the afternoon, and the Sunrise fire sent its plume straight into Frenchtown. Conditions have been deteriorating throughout the day, and if the smoke doesn't move out before the sun sets, it is likely to stick around all night.
Generally, expect hazy skies in Missoula until the wind sets in on Sunday, and localized deteriorated air quality at communities directly downwind of active fires. Rock Creek, Frenchtown, Alberton, Lolo and Florence are likely to see fluctuating air quality with some potentially Unhealthy conditions.
If conditions become Unhealthy, people with heart or lung disease, smokers, children and the elderly should limit heavy or prolonged exertion and limit time spent outdoors. People with asthma should follow their asthma management plan. People experiencing symptoms of heart or lung disease associated with smoke exposure should contact their health care provider.
Stronger afternoon breezes on Sunday may help provide some relief, but they're supposed to be from the same direction as the Sunrise Fire. The breezes may push some haze out, but there's also the chance they'll help deliver fresh smoke to the area. Wind is fickle like that.
The incoming low pressure system swinging by Sunday afternoon and evening will deliver stronger winds, but no moisture. There is a strong potential for increased fire activity as we head into the next week.
Because smoke conditions can change rapidly and vary widely based on location, wind, fire flare ups and proximity to fires, the department encourages individuals to use visibility as a guideline to help gauge air quality at a given time and place and take appropriate precautions.
Today's color satellite photo shows the active fires in our area, with smoke from the Sunrise Fire headed straight toward Frenchtown, and smoke from the Burdette Fire creating hazy conditions in Missoula. Smoke from the Goat Creek and Hogback fires is likely to impact the Rock Creek area overnight and in the early morning hours.
UPDATE: July 21, 2017
As of 10 a.m. on Friday, July 21st, air quality is generally Moderate in Missoula and Frenchtown. We are currently surrounded by wildfires, which is leading to frequent haze and occasional air quality impacts.
The Sunrise Fire burning west of Alberton was particularly active last night and sent a large plume of smoke over Frenchtown in the evening hours. That smoke collapsed into the Frenchtown area around 10:00 p.m. and conditions became briefly Unhealthy for Frenchtown residents. Fortunately, most of the smoke has lifted back up overhead and is currently more of a visibility impact than a health threat. The Sunrise Fire was actively burning overnight and continuing to send out a plume this morning. While the smoke should stay overhead for most of the day, the fire is likely to see added growth today due to strong afternoon breezes, and the resulting smoke may once again land in the Frenchtown area.
The Lolo Peak Fire picked up some acreage yesterday, and sent out a highly visible plume late yesterday afternoon. The smoke from the Lolo Peak Fire has not made an strong impacts on Missoula air quality as of yet, but Lolo and Florence residents may be seeing localized areas of poor air quality. People living or working near the fire should be alert to changing smoke conditions and pay attention to how they are reacting to the smoke.
The Little Hogback and Sliderock fires also saw growth yesterday, and the Little Hogback fire was sending out a pretty good plume of smoke this afternoon. In general, smoke from these fires is unlikely to impact the Missoula Valley. However, people living in the Rock Creek drainage may be seeing elevated levels of smoke pollution.
The Goat Creek Fire started Wednesday afternoon and has quickly grown to more than 400 acres. While its plume has not impacted the Missoula Valley, Missoula County residents who live in the Rock Creek area should be alert to changing air quality conditions. Due to the proximity of the fire to populated areas, it is likely some residents are experiencing conditions that are Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups or worse. We encourage folks to use visibility as a guideline to help determine air quality conditions. In general, if you can't see more than 5 miles, you are in Unhealthy conditions and should take measures to reduce exposure to the smoke.
This morning's (July 21st) satellite photo shows a broad swath of smoke covering the region as well as distinct plumes from some nearby fires.
The Sunrise Fire was quite active overnight, as shown in this heat-detection map from 7 a.m.
Yesterday's (July 20, 2017) afternoon color satellite photo shows impressive plumes from the fires burning to our southeast.
Thick smoke from the Sunrise Fire could be seen over the Frenchtown area last night (July 20, 2017).
UPDATE: July 17, 2017
Air quality conditions may change rapidly and vary widely across the county due to wildfire activity. We have seen a fairly steady, low level of haze creeping into the Missoula Valley from regional wildfires for about a week now, but more serious impacts may be on the horizon. This page and our email list will be updated if air quality deteriorates. Email Sarah Coefield (email@example.com) or Ben Schmidt (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to be added to the Air Quality Updates email list.
Check back to this page for maps, satellite photos and smoke analyses as wildfire season progresses.
This web page is not updated on weekends or holidays unless air quality becomes Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups or worse. Call the air quality hotline at 258-3600 on weekends to get the most current air quality update.
If you operate a woodstove, fireplace or other solid-fuel burning device, you will want to get in the habit of checking this web page or the Air Quality hotline (258-3600) for up-to-date changes in Missoula's air quality. Woodstoves, fireplaces and other solid-fuel burning devices are restricted during alerts and warnings.