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
August 7, 2019 6:00 PM
I've been dragging my feet sending out an air update because we haven't had much in the way of significant smoke impacts in Missoula since Canada came knocking in May. However, there is no denying it's getting hazy out there. We've been seeing some high level smoke from a large fire burning in Washington (the Williams Flats Fire), and it's kept our air quality hovering in the Moderate range for a couple days now. Air quality is currently Moderate in Missoula, Frenchtown and Seeley Lake. Enough smoke recently mixed down into the Seeley Lake valley to push levels close to Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups. However, the atmosphere is still relatively unstable and should stay that way until mixing shuts down later this evening. There's a good chance the smoke in Seeley Lake will lift up out of the valley in the coming hours.
I expect we'll continue to see some Washington smoke until Friday, when our weather goes through a significant pattern change. Until then, we will likely have continued haziness and fluctuating smoke levels.
Starting late Friday and into the weekend, a low pressure system is going to swing through the area and shift our upper level winds to a southwesterly direction. There aren't any large fires directly to our southwest, so we should get a break from out-of-state smoke. There's a chance of thunderstorms Thursday through Saturday, which may lead to additional fire starts throughout the region. The weather system is supposed to drop a significant amount of rain, though, so any new smoke impacts will likely be delayed for a bit.
We're keeping an eye on the smoke and fires and will keep you updated should conditions become Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups or worse. For now, there's some haze to deal with and folks who have pre-existing medical conditions that make them sensitive to smoke may be noticing the increased fine particulate matter hanging out in the area. If you are experiencing smoke-related symptoms, follow your medical plan and avoid outdoor exertion. Also, it's a great idea for everyone to make a cleaner air room in their home. I have information about creating cleaner indoor air spaces on my smoke-ready blog website: https://www.missoulacounty.us/government/health/health-department/home-environment/air-quality/wildfire-smoke-resources-and-blog
A quick heads up: In a week or two, the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest may begin their summer prescribed burns. They have the potential to send smoke our way (sometimes they do, sometimes they don't), but we don't yet know the ignition date or what the smoke forecasts look like. I'll keep you posted as the dates draw nearer.
So far, the Beeskove Fire has kept most of its smoke out of the Missoula valley. If the incident management team needs to light a backfire to slow its progress in the coming weeks, that could result in smoke making its way into the Rattlesnake neighborhood and possibly into town. Should a backfire be necessary and conditions look like smoke will head our way, I'll give you a heads up so you can plan for smoke.
Also! Those of you in the Rattlesnake who are wondering what your air quality is like so close to the fire, the Forest Service set up a handy dandy portable air monitor in the neighborhood. You can access near real-time data from that monitor as well as our permanent monitors here: https://tools.airfire.org/monitoring/v4/#!/?category=PM2.5_nowcast¢erlat=46.9428¢erlon=-113.6893&zoom=9
Note that Montana's Today's Air website has more current particulate concentrations for our permanent monitors here: http://svc.mt.gov/deq/todaysair/AirDataMap.aspx. The Forest Service website is about an hour behind Today's Air. But hey! Data!! Everything is better with data!
Smoke from the Williams Flats Fire is stretching across Western Montana and giving us hazy skies.
July 26, 2019
We've moved the wildfire smoke-ready blog to its own page! You can find handy downloads and some blogs about creating cleaner indoor air spaces at our Smoke-Ready Resources and Blog page.
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.