The following is an update from Sarah Coefield, M.S., M.A., Air Quality Specialist, Missoula City-County Health Department.
Smoke from the Lolo Creek Complex descended into the Lolo area around midnight again last night, and air quality in Lolo is currently HAZARDOUS. The smoke moved into Missoula around 6AM this morning, and air quality in Missoula is currently UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS to UNHEALTHY. We are currently trapped under an inversion, and the smoke will likely stick around until the inversion breaks and temperatures warm later today. In the meantime, residents should use visibility as a guideline to help gauge local smoke levels and take appropriate precautions. This map (CLICK HERE) is a handy tool to use for gauging visibility and health effects categories.
We will likely continue to see the pattern of smoky mornings with relief in the afternoons until the Lolo Creek Complex calms down.
For the moment, Seeley Lake and Frenchtown have escaped most of the wildfire smoke.
There are several fires burning in Idaho such as the Gold Pan Complex that could send smoke our way when winds come from the southwest. Missoula County frequently receives smoke from the Bitterroot, so we'll keep an eye on smoke levels to the south.
Fire danger is currently EXTREME in Missoula County, and firefighters are busily stomping out small fires that are popping up around the region in addition to the larger fires currently grabbing headlines. Residents should be aware that fires will likely continue to pop up, and smoke conditions can change rapidly change with increased fire activity.
Because smoke conditions can change rapidly based on location, wind, fire flare ups and proximity to fires, the department encourages individuals to use visibility as a guideline to help gauge air quality at a given time and place and take appropriate precautions.