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Smoke Forecast for Wednesday, July 20, 2022 2:00 PM

  • Brandon McGuire
  • July 20 2022

Current Conditions

Welcome to the 2022 fire season! Fortunately, favorable precipitation has kept wildfire activity in the region relatively quiet so far this summer. There has been noticeable haze in the air from time to time, due to transported smoke from the fires in Yosemite, and at other times from Canada. However, this week fires have sparked in the closer vicinity, which is starting to affect air quality more significantly in Montana.

Moderate air quality conditions have been seen across much of the western side of the state, with Butte hitting Unhealthy overnight, and Dillon and West Yellowstone reaching Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups. Currently Dillon is Moderate, everywhere else is Good.

Notable fire activity:

  • The Moose Fire, burning Northwest of Salmon, Idaho, started on Sunday, and is estimated at 16,581 acres. It is reported as showing extreme fire behavior with uphill runs, short crown runs, and long-range spotting.
  • The Hog Trough, 17 miles east of Hamilton, Montana, started by lightning on Sunday, is currently at 263 acres. The fire is burning in an old fire scar from the fires of 2000 with heavy fuels, dead standing trees, and downed timber. Minimal growth is expected in the next 12 hours.
  • The Moors Mountain Fire, near the Gates of the Mountains Wilderness, started by lightning on Saturday, is 94 acres. Fire behavior continues to be moderate.

Today’s satellite smoke analysis shows light to heavy smoke in southwest Montana:

HMS smoke

Source:  NOAA Hazard Mapping System



Dominant zonal flow and a shallow ridge of high pressure continues to build over the region today, keeping things warm and dry. Gusty west winds are projected across much of the western side of the state. Winds coming more out of the northwest are forecasted for Eastern Montana.

The largest source of smoke for our area is currently the Moose Fire, as the westerly winds push its smoke across the region, mostly affecting Southwest Montana. Concentrations have generally improved throughout today, but levels are expected to worsen again in Southwest Montana as the day turns to night, and solar heating provides less help keeping the smoke off the ground. Expect Moderate conditions through today in Southwest Montana, dipping into Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups overnight.


Smoke is forecasted blowing across southwest Montana in the most recent HRRR-smoke run:


Source:  HRRR-smoke



Fortunately, Montana has had relatively good air quality this summer, compared to previous years at this time. Unfortunately, fires in the vicinity are beginning to cause some hazy and Moderate conditions this week. The Moose Fire, burning near Salmon, Idaho, is currently uncontrolled and putting out a lot of smoke, which is being pushed east into Southwest Montana. Expect Moderate conditions through today in Southwest Montana, dipping into Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups overnight. Good to Moderate conditions are expected most everywhere else in Montana.

Visible smoke from the Moose Fire:


Source:  GOES17

Conditions look a little hazy in Butte currently:

Butte Webcam

Source:  Montana Webcams

Tags: Smoke Forecast 2022

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