MISSOULA - Missoula County’s air quality specialist says a change to a more seasonable weather pattern which could develop late next week will ease the widespread impacts from smoke which have plagued Western Montana.
But with hundreds of thousands of acres on fire, the smoke won’t vanish entirely.
The past couple of days have seen some of the worst air quality of an already miserable fire season, with most locations fluctuating between “unhealthy” and “hazardous.”
High pressure that’s “capped” the fire smoke will shift east this weekend, although winds could fan the fires again, generating more smoke. However, forecasts are indicating a more favorable, and fall-line weather pattern shaping up late next week.
Missoula City-County Health Department Specialist Sarah Coefield says that’s great news, although with hundreds of thousands of acres on fire, it’s going to take a while to be completely rid of the “smoke monster."
“It means we’re going to see less of the really stagnant air. Those accumulations build up from our own smoke, others state’s smoke where it just sits there and is terrible," Coefield says. "But the fires are still going to be producing smoke until they go out. It will become more of an issue for folks who are downwind of fires, and on the receiving end of a plume. Or people who are right next to a fire where every night the smoke will roll down and fill that valley.”
However, Coefield says “many more people” will have an opportunity to have some clear air if that weather pattern changes.