BOZEMAN – Horrible air quality covers most of western and central Montana counties Thursday afternoon as hot, dry and windy conditions across the Pacific NW and Montana allows area fires to grow.
1 pm Thursday air quality ratings were "UNHEALTHY" for Butte, Bozeman, and Dillon.
An AIR QUALITY ALERT is up until further notice for most of western, SW and central Montana. This means particulates have been trending upwards and that an exceedance of the 24 hour ambient air quality standard has occurred.
When air quality is unhealthy, state and local health officials recommend that people with health problems limit prolonged exposure as much as possible.
The smoke forecast will continue to be very poor through Friday and possibly into Saturday.
Other concerns center around hot, dry and windy conditions with a RED FLAG WARNING back up for SW Montana through 9 pm Thursday. Red Flag Warnings are also up across the northern half of the state. Please use extreme caution with all outdoor activities to avoid new fire starts.
A Pacific trough and cold front will begin to impact the western half of the state Friday afternoon. Scattered showers and thunderstorms should be more widespread over NW Montana and only isolated for SW Montana.
At least this will bring a pattern change with cooler temperatures and a few showers Friday afternoon through Saturday morning. We are hopeful air quality will improve slightly this weekend but only briefly as the overall pattern continues to be mostly dry this weekend into next week.