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Wildfire, fire management and air quality news for western Montana and the Northern Rockies.

Air Quality Expected To Take A Nosedive

Missoula City-County Health Department

Wildfire smoke was almost bearable in some western Montana communities yesterday, but that's about to change.

The Missoula City-County Health Department says winds that have kept the smoke at bay for the past 24 hours or so are expected to shift to the west today. That could blow lots more smoke to the east.

In other words, there's a massive amount of smoke just over the mountains in Idaho and it's headed into Montana. That means air quality is going to quickly deteriorate. 

Missoula Air Quality Specialist Sarah Coefield says she wouldn't be surprised if conditions in Missoula reach "unhealthy" today. She says it's already bad in Libby and air quality remains lousy in the Bitterroot Valley.

Remember, when air quality is unhealthy, people with heart and lung disease, smokers, children and the elderly need to take it easy and limit outdoor exposure.

Visibility can be used as a guideline to determine smoke impacts. Here's a nice guide from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality that can help determine smoke impacts in your area.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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