air quality

A snapshot of today's air quality by health effects category.
Montana DEQ

A new 500-acre prescribed burn in Idaho is pumping lots of smoke into Montana. The National Weather Service in Missoula says it may take a little while for the smoke from the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests to clear out.

Government data from 2012 through 2014 shows worsening air quality in many Montana counties including: Flathead, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Missoula, Ravalli and Richland Counties.
Josh Burnham

The American Lung Association says among America’s cities, Missoula’s air is the tenth dirtiest. That’s for a specific form of pollution.

The Missoula valley’s air quality hasn’t been this unhealthy since 2013.
Courtesy Montana DEQ

The Missoula valley’s air quality hasn’t been this unhealthy since 2013. A relatively rare Stage II air pollution warning was issued earlier today and is expected to persist through most of Thursday.

 Health Effects Category by Air Monitoring Station Based on Average Measured Concentrations of Particulate Matter 2.5 As Of Hour Ending 3:00 PM MST on 12/1/2015
Montana DEQ

Recent cold temperatures mean Missoula’s now teetering on the edge of violating federal air quality standards. Inversions have trapped cold, dirty air in the Missoula valley for almost a week.

Air quality has been poor in some NW Montana towns today.
Montana DEQ

The air quality in Thompson Falls and Libby has improved today, but Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality says 24-hour cumulative exposure in Thompson Falls remains “very unhealthy,” and in Libby the cumulative exposure reading is “unhealthy.”

Wildfires are impacting air quality in Libby and Thompson Falls.
Montana DEQ

The Department of Environmental Quality is reporting unhealthy air quality in Libby this afternoon. It says the air in Thompson Falls is unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Air quality is poor across Montana due to wildfires burning in the western U.S.
Montana DEQ

Smoke levels across most of Montana spiked today, with air quality readings reaching "Very Unhealthy" in several locations, including Missoula, Great Falls, and the Flathead Valley; and reaching the highest warning level, "Hazardous" in Hamilton.

Meteorologist Kristen Martin with Montana Department of Environmental Quality says the smoke could get even worse before it starts to get better over the weekend.

Government data from 2012 through 2014 shows worsening air quality in many Montana counties including: Flathead, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Missoula, Ravalli and Richland Counties.
Josh Burnham

This year, fire season has collided with the school year all over the west, especially in northwest and north central Montana, where the smoke from blazes as far away as Washington has left the air loaded with particulates that make it unhealthy to breathe, forcing teachers and coaches to decide whether to send students out for recess or practice, or keep them indoors.

 Sikorsky Sky Crane Type-1 Helicopter drops fire retardant on the Thompson-Divide Complex’s Sheep Fire burning west of Highway 2 between Mile Markers 182 and 181 about 1 mile south of Essex, MT, Aug. 22, 2015.
Jonathan Moor/Inciweb

The thick blanket of wildfire smoke over western Montana is a proving a blessing and a curse for firefighters in the state. The hazy conditions can rob fires of the oxygen they need to grow, but at the same time prevent aircraft from being able to drop water and fire retardant.

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. 

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