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

Montana Can Expect Clearer Air This Weekend, Meteorologist Says

Montana air quality from 3-4 p.m., May 31, 2019.
Montana Department of Environmental Quality
Montana air quality from 3-4 p.m., May 31, 2019.

Smoke from large wildfires Alberta drifted into more of Montana Friday, causing haze and air quality issues on both sides of the divide.

Air Quality Meteorologist Kristen Martin with Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality says today may be the worst for the state, at least for now.

"Fortunately we are expecting a wind shift over those fires in the next day, and so we are not expecting to see more smoke move down into Montana, at least over the short term. That means we just have to wait ‘til the smoke that’s over us right now has a chance to clear out. We are expecting to see incremental improvement over the next two days, and hopefully by Sunday we’ll see some better air quality across the area."

DEQ air monitoring stations registered moderate air quality readings across much of the state late this afternoon, with Missoula, Frenchtown and Seeley Lake tipping into the unhealthy for sensitive groups category.

Monitoring data for Bozeman and Helena was not immediately available, but thick smoke was present in those areas today.

The DEQ says areas west of the Continental Divide will see air quality improve more quickly than those on the east side, at least in the short term.

O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the University of Montana School of Journalism. His first career job out of school was covering the 1995 Montana Legislature. When the session wrapped up, O’Brien was fortunate enough to land a full-time position at the station as a general assignment reporter. Feel free to drop him a line at
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