BOZEMAN – Hot, dry, and hazy conditions continued today over SW Montana. Late afternoon to early evening hours will be the worst times for increased wildfire smoke Thursday. The general forecast has a large plume of smoke from the Moose Fire north of Salmon, ID to push into SW Montana and overnight drift to the south.
A weak disturbance could produce a few very isolated thunderstorms on Friday and Saturday. This is cause for concern for potential new fire starts. The other issue will be for accidental human caused fire starts especially on Friday.
There is a FIRE WEATHER WATCH up for Friday afternoon and evening for the Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest areas of SW Montana. The combination of hot, dry, windy, and very low relative humidity means human caused fires are very likely and we all need to be extremely careful with all outdoor activities. A small fire can grow quickly and become out of control.
The good news in the forecast is a gradual cooling trend will arrive over the weekend into early next week. A mostly dry cold front will drop into Montana from Canada on Saturday producing a few isolated thunderstorms, gusty winds and cooler temperatures.
The flow aloft should veer to the NW and that will continue to bring cooler temperatures into early next week and help push wildfire smoke to the SE.
The Moose Fire near Salmon, ID has grown to over 20,000 acres as of Thursday morning. This fire seems to be burning around 5,000 acres a day under calm weather conditions. Increased wind is in the forecast for Friday and that could create more smoke from this fire over SW Montana as it could burn more aggressively.