Over the weekend, Missoula and western Montana residents were wondering if they would ever see the sun again, but Monday morning brought clear skies, and new hope,

Air Quality Specialist Sarah Coefield with the Missoula City County Health Department said the dismal air quality of the weekend left the area, chased away by rain and strong winds.

"The high-pressure ridge we've been sitting under for the past few weeks finally moved off," Coefield said. "High pressure kind of works like a lid, keeping stale air stuffed into the valley, so when that finally moved off, we were able to get a good mixing and the smoke had an opportunity to leave."

Coefield said the rain was also beneficial in getting rid of the noxious smoke from area wildfires.

"A cold front went through that actually delivered a lot of smoke on Saturday, but it has moved on for now, leaving some nice breathable air," she said. "There is still a lot of smoke to the west of us in Washington State and in Idaho, so the smoke will be returning. Chances are we'll see pockets of returning smoke until those fires are out."

Coefield said Missoula's air quality as of 8:00 a.m. Monday was Good.

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