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Western Montana's smoky conditions expected to continue for much of the week

Missoula Wildfire Smoke Air Quality
Posted at 8:09 AM, Sep 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-06 11:14:29-04

MISSOULA - Western Montana residents are suffering from itchy eyes, coughing, and headaches from widespread fire smoke for the first time this summer, and conditions aren't expected to see much improvement for a few more days.

The Missoula Valley is just one example of how the combination of hot, stagnant air and smoke from smaller, regional fires is giving us the first real bout of heavy smoke this season.

The air quality in Missoula County has been fluctuating between "unhealthy for sensitive groups" to outright "unhealthy", with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) reporting similar impacts in most areas west of the Divide.
The strong high-pressure ridge is not only creating hot conditions but trapping the smoke at the surface, ad that situation is always made worse by the longer, cooler nights we get in September.

Forecasters are expecting the smoke to ease somewhat during the afternoons, but build overnight into the early mornings. The smoke is helping to suppress the worst of the heat as well. Gusty winds later this week will create concerns over the risk of wildfires but could clear out some of the smoke.

The latest information on air quality across Montana can be found at