An AIR QUALITY ALERT has been issued for most of the state.
It's downright nasty out there. The look. The smell. And it's unhealthy. Much of western Montana has "unhealthy" air quality according to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. It is recommended that people avoid exerting themselves outside in these conditions, and it looks like the air quality will remain at this level for a few more days. There is some good news as temperatures will cool down into the 70s for highs, there are no high wind events likely anytime soon, and there is solid rain in the forecast for Montana and much of the West. In order for Montana's air quality to improve, the fires burning our state need rain as do the fires out of state. The next several days and through the weekend will see areas of rain, not just thunderstorms, for a lot of the West. One of those areas of rain will move toward Montana on Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday will be very gray and ugly with the smoke and cloud cover, but later in the afternoon and evening the clouds will produce light to moderate rain. It will start rain in the afternoon over far southwest Montana, and the rain will gradually spread northeast through the evening. This rain should move right over Helena and Great Falls, and could continue through the night for some areas. Wednesday will be partly cloudy with a few isolated showers and thunderstorms, and highs will stay in the 70s. Thursday will have another solid area of rain move into the state through the afternoon and evening. Much of western and central Montana will have hours of light to moderate rain, with a slight chance of a heavier downpour along with a thunderstorm. Highs will be in the 60s and 70s. Friday will be partly cloudy with a few isolated showers or a thunderstorm, but it will be a drier day with highs in the 70s. Yet another round of showers should move through the state on Saturday, keeping the temperatures down in the 60s and 70s. There is a chance for more precipitation and even cooler temperatures early next week. It may take some time but an increase in moisture and a decrease in temperatures will slowly clean up the smoke and get us closer to the end of fire season. It's happening.