An AIR QUALITY ALERT is in effect for parts of Montana west of the Continental Divide.
Wildfires and smoke have drastically increased over the last few weeks. New wildfires started as lightning holdovers, and these fires have quickly grown once started. Air quality has deteriorated, with the worst air over western Montana closer to larger fires burning in Idaho. More wildfires, smoke and intense heat are likely over the next few weeks. Tuesday a few showers and thunderstorms will push through the state. Rain would be wonderful, but these thunderstorms will also produce lightning strikes. This was the situation last week as thunderstorms produced lightning strikes that turned into wildfires about 24 hours later. With the scattered storms and clouds around, Tuesday will be a little cooler with highs in the 70s and 80s. Wednesday will be hot, sunny and dry with highs up in the 80s and low 90s. Thursday will be hot with isolated thunderstorms. Highs will rise into the low 90s. Friday will again be hot and dry with highs in the 90s. This weekend will be really hot as highs reach the 90s for most of the state, but eastern Montana could eclipse 100. A few isolated thunderstorms are likely on Saturday. Early next week, temperatures will get even hotter. Monday and Tuesday will be extremely hot with record heat likely. There is even a chance that a few towns set their all time record high temperature on Tuesday. Because of this heat and so much more of summer left on the calendar, this fire season will be brutal. Please be careful to not spark any new flames, and if you see smoke, call it in.