Current Air Quality and Restrictions:
Air quality in Missoula County is Good to Moderate If air quality becomes Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups or worse this web page will be updated. Check the Today's Air website (link in box above) for the most current PM2.5 measurements across the state.
Air Quality: Discussion
January 11, 2019
A high pressure ridge setting up over western Montana is likely to lead to stagnant air for the next several days, accompanied by worsening air quality. As we move into this period of potentially poor air quality, it will be important for Missoula County residents to limit their use of wood heat. This means using an alternative means of heat if one is available. If wood is a sole source of heat, it is important to burn as cleanly as possible. Only burn seasoned, dry wood and make sure your fire is burning hot before dampering down (the newer EPA certified stoves do not operate correctly unless you start with a hot fire. In addition, hotter fires have more complete combustion and therefore less smoke.)
Per the Montana Department of Environmental Quality:
A strong ridge of high pressure is expected to build over Montana starting Friday night. This will bring very light winds both at the surface and aloft. The light winds, combined with clear skies, will promote the formation of strong overnight inversions across western Montana. Beginning Saturday morning, we will likely see widespread moderate air quality in the valleys. Some areas may see hourly levels reach unhealthy for sensitive groups.
Many valleys will struggle to lift out from under these inversions, due to poor vertical air movement associated with the stable air mass. This will be most prevalent in northwest Montana, although the Missoula valley may also struggle. This will lead to worsening air quality as the weekend progresses and we move into next week. We may see widespread unhealthy for sensitive groups air quality in the valleys by Sunday or Monday morning, with hourly readings possibly reaching unhealthy levels.
Right now, it looks like we may see some relief beginning Tuesday or Wednesday when more active weather tries to move in. However, history tells us that these types of weather patterns can be stubborn to break. Another update will be posted Monday with any changes.
The Missoula City-County Health Department Air Pollution Control Program will monitor the air and issue Air Alerts or Air Warnings as needed. Missoula County residents can check for the current air quality and air alert status by calling the Air Quality Hotline: 258-3600 or visiting www.missoulcounty.us/currentaq Even in the absence of an alert, we ask that all Missoula County residents be mindful of the stagnant air and strive to limit emissions from wood burning fireplaces and wood stoves.
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.