A weather pattern change over the weekend will shift smoke around, blowing out some British Columbia smoke but could fan the flames of Montana’s wildfires.  Nasty air has been settled west of the Continental Divide where there is an AIR QUALITY ALERT from Missoula and Kalispell all the way out to Seattle.  East of the Divide, air quality has been better.

A few thunderstorms will move through the state this evening, mainly just east of the Divide.  Friday, isolated thunderstorms will pop across the state.  Highs will be in the 70s and 80s.  Saturday will be a pleasant day across the state, with mostly sunny and hazy skies.  Highs will be in the 80s to around 90.  Sunday is when the pattern change will begin.  Low pressure and a cold front will move in from the Pacific.  The wind flow will switch to the southwest, blowing the B.C. smoke through Canada to our north.  Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and western Montana will clear out somewhat.  While the B.C. smoke decreases, increasing wind in Montana could create more smoke from Big Sky’s wildfires.  Sunday will be partly cloudy and breezy, with thunderstorms in western and central Montana.  These storms will be widespread and could create more lightning sparked wildfires.  The storms could also have an impact on wildfire behavior if they create erratic wind.  Highs will be in the 80s and 90s.  Monday, scattered storms will hit the central and eastern areas.  Highs will be in the 70s and 80s.  West wind will increase to near 20mph.  Next week, west winds could create more smoke from Montana wildfires, but smoke from British Columbia wildfires will likely stay north of Montana.

Have a great day!

Curtis Grevenitz

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Chief Meteorologist