Poor air quality and Air Stagnation Alerts are numerous for western Montana counties right now, and are expected to continue through most of Wednesday. How bad is the air quality in some of the areas of concern?

Currently, the air quality is "unhealthy for sensitive groups" in areas such as Kalispell, Whitefish and Columbia Falls. As of Tuesday, many western Montana AQI (air quality index) numbers were well over 100, with a few in the 130s.

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

The National Weather Service has issued several Air Stagnation Alerts for various counties in western Montana. Obviously, AQI numbers can change rapidly if winds pick up or fronts settle in. Be prepared for conditions to get worse in areas that may seem quite clear right now, and vice versa.

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  • WHAT...Stagnant conditions will trap pollutants, leading to deteriorating air quality.
  • WHERE...Flathead/Mission Valleys, Kootenai/Cabinet Region, West Glacier Region, Lower Clark Fork Region, Missoula/Bitterroot Valleys, and Potomac/Seeley Lake Region.
  • WHEN...Until noon Wednesday.
  • IMPACTS...Periods of air stagnation can lead to the build up of pollutants near the surface.
  • Persons with respiratory illness should follow their physicians advice for dealing with high levels of air pollution during periods of stagnant air.
  • According to state air quality agencies, prolonged period of stagnant air can hold pollutants close to the ground where people live and breathe.
  • Check with your local burn agency for any current restrictions in your area.\


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