As wildfires continue to burn throughout Northwest Montana Friday afternoon, Flathead County’s air quality bounced from good and moderate and back throughout the day.
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality classifies air conditions as moderate when people with sensitivities to particle pollution, like people with asthma, should consider limiting prolonged outdoor exertion.
“But for everyone else, there’s not any reason that you can’t be active outside,” said Flathead County Public Health Officer Hillary Hanson.
Hanson said it’s hard to predict when air quality might change during fire season as weather and even which way the wind is blowing could add or ease smoke conditions within a community.
“I think anytime we have weather that’s hot and dry and we’re talking about increased fire concerns, comes concern over air quality,” she said. “They go hand in hand.”
The air quality throughout the state on Friday remained good to moderate as increasingly hazy skies appeared from a strong ridge of high pressure over the region, according to a statement from the Department of Environmental Quality.
According to the release, increasing fire weather is expected on Saturday with hot and dry weather mixes paired with increased winds and dry thunderstorms.
A southerly flow may also carry in smoke from fires in California, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado over the next day.
Starting on Sunday, the ridge is expected to be replaced by a strong west southwest flow from low pressure moving across Canada. The increased winds are expected to linger throughout much of next week.
According to the agency, most areas should see the haze clear on Sunday, although the increased winds could usher in smoke from areas to the southwest. The wind could also cause narrow, concentrated plumes to form over new or intensifying fires in Montana.
To view air quality updates, visit http://flatheadhealth.org/environmental-health/air-quality/