We have some lingering smoke impacts this morning after a warmer and drier day yesterday caused a slight increase in fire activity on some area fires. The smoke impacts have been caused by the fires smoldering and sending smoke into nearby drainages. Air quality on Monday is UNHEALTHY in Clearwater and UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in Libby, Florence, Seeley Lake, and Trout Creek. Elsewhere, air quality is generally MODERATE in western Montana and GOOD in eastern Montana.
Any remaining smoke impacts should be short lived with a cold, wet weather system making its way into the state today. Montana is expected to be under a trough of low pressure throughout the week, with rain and snow likely on many area fires. Temperatures are expected to be in the 30s and 40s at night, and barely making it into the 50s each day. Winds are expected to be breezy throughout the week and generally from the southwest to west. This should allow most areas to have GOOD air quality starting tomorrow and continuing for much of the week. There may be brief periods of MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS air quality near smoldering fires, especially in the morning hours, but overall air quality concerns will be decreasing throughout the week.
If air quality conditions improve as expected this will be the last wildfire smoke outlook of the season. Updates will be posted as needed from now on. On the right, I have included a final summary of all areas fires, with their current acreage.
Here is a rundown of the large fires that have caused significant impacts to Montana this fire season:
-The Rice Ridge fire, near Seeley Lake, has consumed 160,181 acres. This fire caused prolonged periods of hazardous air quality in Seeley Lake and throughout the Seeley-Swan Valley since the beginning of August.
-The Lolo Peak fire, near Lolo, has consumed 53,753 acres. This fire has caused significant air quality impacts, reaching hazardous levels in Florence and Lolo, as well as sending smoke down the Bitterroot Valley and up into Missoula.
-The Sprague fire, in Glacier National Park, has consumed 16,790 acres. This fire caused hazardous air quality at Lake McDonald and along the Going to the Sun Road.
-The Park Creek fire (18,000 acres) and the Alice Creek fire (29,252 acres), near Lincoln, sent frequent smoke into the Lincoln community at night.
-The Meyers fire, near Philipsburg, has consumed 62,034 acres and the nearby Sapphire Complex has consumed 43,733 acres. Both of these fires caused impacts to areas north and east of the Sapphire Mountains, particularly the I-90 corridor near Rock Creek and the town of Philipsburg.
-The Highway 200 Complex (47,118 acres) and the nearby Moose Peak fire (12,646 acres), near Thompson Falls started late in the season and caused significant air quality impacts to the highway 200 corridor from Plains to Trout Creek and into Idaho.
-The Liberty fire, near Arlee has consumed 28,689 acres. This fire cause impacts to the Arlee and Potomac areas at night and occasionally the Seeley Lake area during the day.
-The Gibralter Ridge fire (12,938 acres) and the Caribou fire (24,753 acres), near Eureka have caused impacts to the northern Flathead Valley.
-The West Fork fire, near Libby, has consumed 19,497 acres. This fire caused late season air quality impacts to Libby and surrounding areas.
-The Sunrise fire, near Quartz Creek, has consumed 26,310 acres. This fire caused significant impacts in early August to the I-90 corridor between Alberton and Superior.
-In the Bob Marshall Wilderness, the Crucifixion Creek fire (11,008 acres), the Scalp fire (21,104 acres), and the Strawberry fire (30,461 acres) sent smoke into Heart Butte and areas off the Rocky Mountain Front.
- In eastern Montana, the large Lodgepole Complex, consumed 270,723 acres in late July. This was the largest of the numerous grass fires that burned throughout eastern Montana, causing brief, but significant, air quality impacts to many communities.
-In the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness in Idaho, numerous fires, including the Moose Creek, Hidden, Hanover, and Lone Pine sent smoke into the Bitterroot Valley and across Southwest Montana. For more information on Idaho fires, see here.
-Montana was also impacted by the numerous fires burning in Canada in July, and the Pacific Northwest in August and September. Smoke from these fires occasionally caused widespread overcast skies, inhibiting daytime heating and making our ground level impacts from area fires worse.