Wildfire smoke has returned with a vengeance to most of Montana. Bozeman's AQI was as high as 175 on Monday morning...and that wasn't even the worst level in the state.

We enjoyed a few days last week of miraculously "clear" skies, which was a nice respite from the weeks of poor air quality. (It's not as if the wildfires disappeared, but the winds and the jet stream just took the majority of smoke in another direction.)

AQI stands for Air Quality Index, and the higher the number...the worse the air quality.

There is currently an Air Quality Alert in effect for: Beaverhead, Big Horn, Blaine, Broadwater, Carbon, Carter, Cascade, Chouteau, Custer, Daniels, Dawson, Deer Lodge, Fallon, Fergus, Flathead, Gallatin, Garfield, Glacier, Golden Valley, Granite, Hill, Jefferson, Judith Basin, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Liberty, Lincoln, Madison, McCone, Meagher, Mineral, Missoula, Musselshell, Park, Petroleum, Phillips, Pondera, Powder River, Powell, Prairie, Ravalli, Richland, Roosevelt, Rosebud, Sanders, Sheridan, Silver Bow, Stillwater, Sweet Grass, Teton, Toole, Treasure, Valley, Wheatland, Wibaux, and Yellowstone counties.

  • BOZEMAN: 170 (unhealthy)
  • BIG SKY: 172 (unhealthy)
  • BUTTE: 164 (unhealthy)
  • LIVINGSTON: 166 (unhealthy)
  • BIG TIMBER: 183 (unhealthy)
  • BILLINGS: 156 (unhealthy)
  • LOLO: 162 (unhealthy)
  • THOMPSON FALLS: 212 (very unhealthy)
AirNow

There is also a Red Flag Warning in effect for many areas of Montana at least through today. According to the National Weather Service:

  • WHAT: RED FLAG WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL MIDNIGHT TONIGHT FOR HOT TEMPERATURES, GUSTY WINDS, AND LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY.
  • WHERE: Eastern Glacier/Toole/Central/Eastern Pondera/Liberty, Hill and Blaine Counties, Lewis and Clark National Forest Rocky Mountain District-Rocky Mountain Front, Chouteau and Fergus Counties, Central and Eastern Lewis and Clark National Forest Areas and Helena and Townsend Ranger Districts of the Helena National Forest.
  • TEMPERATURES...Highs will reach the mid 80s to mid 90s this afternoon.
  • WINDS...West 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 35 mph.
  • HUMIDITY...As low as 10 to 15 percent.