Seeley Air Quality Evacuation is First in Montana, Smoke Problem Will Get Worse says DEQ Meteorologist
Anyone that looks out the window can tell you that the air quality in western Montana is bad, but DEQ Air Quality Specialist Kristen Martin says the smoke problem in Missoula County, specifically in Seeley Lake, is likely the worst in Montana... ever.
"As far as I know, we've never had a County Health Department recommend evacuation due to air quality," Martin said. "As far as the persistent hazardous morning air quality impacts that we've seen in Seeley Lake for the last ten days it is certainly something that we have not measured in Montana in recent memory, it certainly occurs on other fires around the country at times, but here in Montana, this is certainly a unique situation."
Sadly, it looks like the bad air quality in Missoula County is only going to intensify.
"Through Saturday it looks like we're going to see more of the same with, potentially, air quality getting a little worse each day," Martin said. "A ridge of high pressure that has been over the west coast for a while is slowly making its way over Montana and that is carrying a whole bunch of smoke from fires up in Canada with it. We do see a pattern change starting next week, where we see more westerly winds, but that could bring even more smoke."
Air quality has been progressively getting worse in the city of Missoula as well, climbing from moderate on Monday to Unhealthy on Thursday morning. Satellite photos show the entire stretch of the western Montana border, from Canada to Idaho, shrouded in smoke.