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

Cooler Temperatures, Rain Expected To Reduce Fire Activity In Montana

Cooler temperatures and rainfall will improve air quality, along with another wet weather system this weekend.
Missoula Weather Forecast Office
Cooler temperatures and rainfall will improve air quality, along with another wet weather system this weekend.

Cooler temperatures in Montana through the weekend are expected to lower fire activity.

Forecasters say rain is expected to move into western Montana by Tuesday evening and head east by Wednesday. Up to an inch of rain is expected to fall in parts of the state, enough to dampen fires but not put them out.

Jeff Kitsmiller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Missoula, says it’s likely everyone in the western part of the state will see rain.

“And then, after that, there is another low pressure system that gets here as we get closer to the weekend, so we’ll have even more chances for rain.”

Kitsmiller says temperatures will likely remain in the 70s and 80s into the early part of next week.

Bob Setzenfand, a meteorologist with the weather service in Billings, says a noticeable cold front will bring rain and cooler temperatures to the eastern part of the state from Wednesday to Friday.

“It’s really going to be a big change from what we’ve had,” he says.

He says the weather service is forecasting below-normal temperatures for much of the state into late next week.

The wet and cold will bring temporary relief from wildfire smoke that’s wafting into the western part of the state.

Ben Schmidt is an air quality specialist with the Missoula City-County Health Department.

“I’m not saying we’re going to have no smoke, but I’m saying we should have greatly reduced smoke compared to what we’ve had in the last week,” Schmidt says.

He says cooler weather and some wind will likely move smoke out of the area.

However, Schmidt says he doubts Montana is out of the smoke season just yet.