UPDATE:5:00 p.m. Sunday, November 3

As of 5:00 p.m. Sunday, November 3, air quality in Missoula and Frenchtown had improved to Moderate

UPDATE: 12:00 Noon, Sunday, November 3

As of 10:00 a.m. Sunday, November 3, a Stage One Air Pollution Alert was issued for Missoula.

Inside the Missoula Air Stagnation Zone, no visible emissions are allowed from any wood stove or other solid fuel burning device without a valid Stage I Air Alert Permit.

Early Saturday afternoon, the Missoula City County Health Department announced that the air quality specifically in the Frenchtown valley had been declared to be Unhealthy.

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Air Quality Specialist Sarah Coefield was at her desk on Saturday afternoon looking at the numbers for the Missoula area and made the announcement.

“Right now, we have a high pressure ridge that is lodged pretty heavily right over the region,” said Coefield. “With a high pressure system it makes it hard for the air to break out and creates really strong valley inversions, and we are seeing one heck of an inversion out in Frenchtown right now. The pollution has been building up under this inversion area and it hit Unhealthy, and it is pretty bad air in Frenchtown right now.”

Coefield said the air for the rest of western Montana is listed as Moderate.

She said the only way for the unhealthy air to escape is for some kind of weather system to blow through the area.

“Right now the way this weather pattern is sitting it really is a steady pattern of high pressure is keeping anything from happening and there are no valley winds in the forecast,” she said, “Any hope we have of breaking out of these inversions is just from the sun getting down to the ground to warm up the air so it can move.”

Coefield said the air is moving better at higher elevations, however, on the valley floor any air pollution on the ground level is just getting stuck.

Check the local air quality by clicking here.