MTPR

wildfire

The Wigwam Fire burning near Ennis on Aug. 15.
Inciweb

Rain in western Montana Monday did little to slow fire growth across the state.

"Well it’s a mixed blessing," said Jay Nichols, a spokesperson assigned to the Monument and Wigwam Fires burning south of Ennis. "So obviously wind isn’t a good thing, rain’s a good thing, but I don’t know that it will be a substantial amount of rain."

Air Quality Update For Western Montana, August 20, 2018

Aug 20, 2018
Satellite photo show clouds and smoke over the northwest, August 20, 2018.
CIRA and NOAA

Yes, the air is bad. No, the smoke is not the entire reason it is so very dreary out there. We are dealing with a combination of cloud cover and smoke cover, which means the sky is gray and the light we can see is filtered through the smoke and is therefore extra weak. Smoke is basically the sun’s kryptonite.  I could get into a whole narrative about how the smoke is the product of the sun’s unrelenting heat on the landscape and it has risen (literally) from the ashes to challenge its creator, but really. That would be silly.

The Scotty Brown Fire, seen on August 11, 2015.
Inciweb

July of 2015 was the warmest month on record in the history of our planet, 2015 is on trend to be our warmest recorded year, and in much of the American west that warmth has been coupled with moderate to extreme drought conditions. With emissions of greenhouse gases showing no sign of decreasing, these records will probably not last long. For Montana, it means that our overall climate is likely to get warmer and drier. As that happens, wildfires are likely to grow in both frequency and scale.

CL-215 Superscooper Airplanes Drop Water on the Howe Ridge Fire in Glacier National Park, August 12, 2018.
Glacier National Park

Update 6:44 p.m.

Unhealthy air conditions were widespread in Montana today, prompting Air Quality Alerts in every county, according to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.

The DEQ announced this afternoon that smoke is affecting the entire state and air quality levels range from “unhealthy for sensitive groups” to “very unhealthy”.

The DEQ recommends the following for unhealthy air quality conditions:

Glacier National Park's Lake McDonald Lodge.
David Restivo / National Parks Service (PD)

Update 4:15 p.m.

For the second year running, the historic Lake McDonald Lodge will close for the season early because of a fire burning in Glacier National Park.

The Howe Ridge Fire continues to burn more than 3,500 acres on the northwest side of Lake McDonald.

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