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Neighboring wildfires affect southwest Montana's air quality

Posted at 6:21 PM, Aug 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 12:51:32-04

SOUTHWEST MONTANA — When you thought you just had to worry about the coronavirus. Now, there’s fires and other natural causes that affect the air quality, which in term affects your health.

“I would tell you that as an allergy office, we’ve seen that this pollen season I do believe has been a more severe grass pollen season than last year and the year before. Maybe not so much the year before that, but this has been a bad grass pollen season for sure,” explained Dr. Michael DiCello at Allergy and Asthma Consultants of Montana.

And grass pollen mixed with smoke from neighboring wildfires in DIllion and in northern California have become a respiratory nightmare.

“That smoke column in those big fires gets lifted up into the upper atmosphere. Jet streams pulls into higher latitudes and then when you get under higher pressure ridges like what we’ve been under, it can just settle down to the ground,” explained Mike Heard, the Chief Meteorologist at MTN News.

And in case you haven’t been outside lately, it’s a bit hazy.

“It’s very noticeable. It’s kind of irritating your eyes. If you have some breathing problems, you can definitely feel it. But the longer this smoke sits here, the air quality ratings will continue to climb and get worse,” Heard said.

So do we sit and suffer or are there solutions?

“Keeping indoors with air conditioning is absolutely probably the best thing a person can do. After that, if a person’s having allergy symptoms there are some reasonably good medications that are now available over the counter that used to be prescription only,” Dr. DiCello explained.

We’ll have to wait and see what the next couple of days has in store for us.

“If we get a little bit of rain and some wind it may help things. But looking at the forecast models and as long as it flows out of the southwest and I think that’ll hold true through at least the weekend into early next week I do expect to see more very smokey days like this for southwest Montana,” Heard said.

We’ll just have to stay tuned in to the weather forecast.