No, it’s not a new game show, it’s the question everyone is asking as they wake up and see the bluish haze that masks the beautiful mountains around western Montana.

Air Quality Specialist with the Missoula City County Health Department, Ben Schmidt said this week’s smoke is still coming from distant fires.

“Last week the smoke was coming from California wildfires,” Schmidt said. “It comes up from the south and arcs over and hits us, and then some smoke from Oregon was in the mix. This last episode from Tuesday was primarily from fires in the state of Washington from that range just east of the Seattle area. It just took a sharp right hand turn and came down all over western Montana. That being said, there are other fires that are throwing their smoke into the mix with us from northern Idaho and Canada and there was also definitely some more smoke from California and Oregon.”

Schmidt said the smoke that drifts into the Missoula valley starts high, but as the day goes on, the heating effect draws the smoke down into the valleys.

Schmidt looks into his air quality crystal ball to predict the next few days.

“Right now it looks like this smoke will build up for the next couple of days, but there’s a good chance that by this weekend a low pressure system will come into the area,” he said. “There won’t be any moisture, but that might actually give Missoula some fairly decent air quality.”


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