Unhealthy and Very Unhealthy levels of particulates remain in Montana's wildfire smoke soaked air. Every single county in western Montana and southwest Montana continue to be under an Air Quality Alert.

Areas south of Missoula are still seeing the 'dirtiest' air with AQI levels well into the 240s and 250s, with occasional readings of 300+ (which is quite dangerous.) You can see from the chart below what the EPA determines to be unhealthy air at certain AQI levels.

Air Quality Chart - AirNow.gov
Air Quality Chart - AirNow.gov

Montana is dealing with it's own wildfires in the western part of the state but the majority of our smoke and poor air quality is coming from other states with larger wildfires such as Idaho, Washington and Oregon.

During these weeks of poor AQIs, it's important to monitor the readings as they can change quite quickly...either better or worse, with simply a shift in the wind. In fact, the Bozeman area enjoyed a nice weekend with very little smoke pollution but then went downhill literally overnight into Monday.


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According to the National Weather Service:

  • The Montana Department of Environmental Quality has issued an air quality alert
  • COUNTIES IN MONTANA AFFECTED: Beaverhead, Big Horn, Broadwater, Carbon, Deer Lodge, Flathead, Gallatin, Granite, Jefferson, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Madison, Mineral, Missoula, Park, Powder River, Powell, Ravalli, Sanders, and Silver Bow counties
  • WHEN: in effect until 10:00 AM on Wednesday 9/14/2022
  • An Air Quality Alert means that particulates have been trending upwards and that an exceedance of the 24 hour National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) has occurred, or may occur in the near future.
  • Particulate levels in Hamilton are Very Unhealthy
  • Particulate levels in Missoula, Libby, Thompson Falls, Frenchtown are Unhealthy
  • Particulate levels in Seeley Lake, Flathead Valley, Butte, Broadus are Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
  • Particulate levels in Billings - Lockwood, Cut Bank, West Yellowstone, Lewistown, Great Falls, Dillon, Miles City, Bozeman, Helena are Moderate
  • When air quality is Very Unhealthy... State and local health officials recommend that people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly, and children should avoid any outdoor activity; everyone else should avoid prolonged exertion.

Yellowstone National Park Rebuilds After Historic Flooding

After catastrophic flooding damaged portions of Yellowstone National Park in June of 2022, major reconstruction was necessary to make the park passable again. The following are photos of the improvement projects at Old Gardiner Road and the Northeast Entrance Road. All photos are courtesy of the National Park Service, photographer Jacob W. Frank.

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