The Montana Department of Environmental Quality has issued an Air Quality Alert for the entire state due to wildfire smoke from nearby fires, effective until 9 a.m. today.  Air quality is expected to range from moderate to unhealthy with pockets of very unhealthy near active fires.  Conditions are expected to improve when forecasted, widespread rain moves into the area today.

The alert means that particulates have been trending upwards and exceeded the 24 hour National Ambient Air Quality Standards, or may exceed that level in the near future.  Billings and most of south central and southeast Montana have been rated with “Unhealthy” air quality, which means the particulate level of smoke is high enough that active children, adults, and people with respiratory issues such as asthma, should avoid prolonged outdoor exertion; everyone else should limit prolonged outdoor exertion.