Air quality is still poor across much of Montana this afternoon. Clouds are popping up across much of southwestern, south-central, and western Montana. Some of these clouds are developing into rain and thunderstorms. High atmospheric winds are now blowing from the southwest, and so smoke is really starting to pour into previously clear parts of Montana, like Helena and beyond the Rocky Mountain Front. Winds at the surface, however, are blowing from the east and southeast, so any smoke that doesn’t make it high off the ground in Montana is affecting locations to the west and northwest. In short, the smoke is everywhere. Unfortunately, we are looking at a few more, very critical fire weather days ahead of us, so this smoke will only get worse. Red Flag Warnings are in effect for parts of southern Montana, and Fire Weather Watches are almost everywhere else. It would be likely that Red Flag Warnings are everywhere east of the Divide if not by Monday, then by Tuesday. Thunderstorm chances will stay in the forecast, especially along the western terrain, through tomorrow night. Temperatures will get even warmer tomorrow, and relative humidities will be very low again. On Tuesday, temperatures will be even warmer still, in the mid-90s and near 100. Relative humidities will be very low and the wind will start to pick up ahead of a weather system and cold front which will arrive on Wednesday. Tuesday has the potential to be an extremely smoky day, with poor air quality almost state-wide. On Wednesday, winds will be strong again as the cold front approaches the west in the late morning, and moves across the state throughout the day and into the night. Far eastern Montana will warm up again ahead of the cold front, and fire weather will be critical again. As the front passes, there will be almost no chance of rain, winds will get even stronger, and the wind will shift from the east/southeast to the west/northwest. The end of the week will be cooler and the cold front should push a lot of the smoke out of the region, and high atmospheric winds should divert a lot of smoke away from Montana. We just have to get through a few bad days to see cleaner and clearer air again.
Air quality is still poor across much of Montana this afternoon. High atmospheric winds are now blowing from the southwest, and so smoke is really starting to pour into previously clear parts of Montana, like Helena and beyond the Rocky Mountain Front. Even if the air at the surface is generally good, the smoke is everywhere in the atmosphere over Montana today and we are looking at a few more, very critical fire weather days ahead of us, so this smoke will only get worse.