Where is All the Smoke in Missoula Coming From?
As I am writing this, I am currently tending to a sick kid affected by the heavy wildfire smoke. The unhealthy air quality, mixed with seasonal allergies has made school and outdoor activities unbearable for my kiddo. Complaining of headaches and extreme congestion, it is safe to say wildfire season is not a favorite time of year for this kid.
It has been the question on everybody's minds. Where is the smoke coming from?
The fire season in Montana went from relatively quiet to choking on smoke in no time. The seasonal fires tend to bring heavy smoke to the surrounding valleys, but rarely this thick. It appears that a majority of the heavy smoke in Missoula and Bitterroot valleys is coming from fires burning nearby. Yet, there are some rather big fires burning in Idaho and Oregon that are also adding to the already unbearable smoke. It is clearly starting to affect the sensitive groups. It is even starting to affect me. The heavy smoke in the bitterroot valley has given me headaches, if I spend any time outside.
According to Missoula County Public Health Department's latest update, Missoula is still teetering between moderate and unhealthy. It all depends on the wind direction, and which fires are burning. Or whether an inversion is happening in the valley.
The Trail Ridge Fire and Mill Lake Fire poured smoke into the Bitterroot Valley overnight, and conditions are Unhealthy in Hamilton. Air quality generally improves as you move north up the Bitterroot, but it’s good to keep in mind that the Missoula Valley is downstream of Ravalli County, so smoke originating in the Bitterroot has the potential to flow toward Missoula right above the inversion layer.
The inversion in the valley is much of the reason why the smoke hangs around. Much like the cloudy skies in winter. Our valleys have a tendency to let clouds and smoke settle. Causing the smoke or clouds to become thick.
Keep checking with the Missoula County Health Department for daily updates on air quality due to wildfire smoke. Looking ahead, smoke is supposed to begin moving south of us starting Friday.