Fire activity was somewhat calmer yesterday compared to recent days. This has led to improved air quality in many locations over the past 12 hours. As of 1pm, air quality is MODERATE in Thompson Falls, Frenchtown, Seeley Lake, Butte, Great Falls, and Lewistown. Elsewhere, air quality is GOOD at our monitored locations. Directly down drainage of the active fires, such as near Lolo, Florence, Superior, and Lincoln, smoke is likely to filter in to the valleys most evenings, before clearing in the late morning.
Fire activity surrounding Missoula and the Bitterroot Valley remains active:
-The Sunrise fire near Superior, MT is currently 3,700 acres and 5% contained with extreme fire behavior.
-The Burdette fire,near Tarkio, MT is currently 580 acres and 10% contained with moderate fire behavior.
- The Lolo Peak fire near Carlton, MT is currently 1,604 acres and 1% contained with moderate fire behavior.
-The Sapphire Complex near Clinton, MT is currently 6,626 acres and 5% contained with active fire behavior.
-The Liberty fire near Arlee, MT is currently 446 acres and 0% contained with active fire behavior.
-The Whetstone Ridge fire near Philipsburg, MT is currently 2,104 acres and 0% contained with active fire behavior.
-The Meyers fire, also near Philipsburg, is currently 1,052 acres and 0% contained with active fire behavior.
Fires near Lincoln, MT are causing intermittent smoke impacts in the Lincoln community:
-The Park Creek fire is currently 3,423 acres and 25% contained with active fire behavior.
-The Arrastra Creek fire is currently 2,780 acres and 15% contained with active fire behavior.
In eastern Montana, fire activity has calmed on the large fires. The Lodgepole Complex near Jordan, MT grew just 200 acres since yesterday and is 62% contained with moderate fire behavior. The Buffalo and Stallions fires near Broadus, MT did not grow yesterday and are both reporting minimal fire behavior.
A strong ridge of high pressure with occasional disturbances moving through will be the dominate weather feature for at least the next week. Currently, a disturbance is moving across Montana, bringing an increased risk of thunderstorms to a large portion of the state. This thunderstorm risk will linger into Friday before the ridge re-strengthens on Saturday. The thunderstorms will bring gusty winds but limited precipitation to the region, keeping fire danger high. The ridge will remain in place through the weekend with another disturbance expected to move through early next week. This will once again bring gusty winds but limited precipitation before the ridge re-establishes itself for the rest of the week.
Unfortunately, it looks like the hot and dry weather will continue for the foreseeable future with active fire behavior and a steady risk of new fires from the dry thunderstorms. Air quality impacts are expected to continue across the state with persistently hazy skies and MODERATE air quality. Conditions near Superior, Missoula, down the Bitterroot Valley, Philipsburg, and Lincoln will likely see air quality reach UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS at times, especially during the morning hours before daytime heating lifts the smoke off the valley floors. It looks like air quality in eastern Montana will be generally GOOD as fire activity has decreased, at least for now.