Fire weather at its worst Friday evening


RED FLAG WARNING until 6 a.m. Saturday for gusty winds. This warning encompasses most of our viewing area except near Yellowstone and Monida Pass. The most critical time will be between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. The windiest part of the region will be around Kalispell, Lincoln County, and Glacier National Park.

A dry cold front will sweep across the area and bring wind gust of up to 30 mph in the afternoon and into the night across western Montana. It will begin as a dry wind out of the west to southwest which will put communities threatened by the Lolo Peak and Sunrise fires in even more danger. All fires in the region will experience more activity on Friday afternoon and well into Friday night. Humidity will be very low and will be slow to recover overnight. Areas east of these large fires should expect lots of smoke overhead as we enter the weekend due to afternoon blowups.

Air quality will be variable as smoke rises in the afternoon and sinks overnight and into the early morning. Areas east of large fires such as Butte, Helena, Bozeman, Hamilton, and Missoula will see large amounts of smoke overhead Friday and Saturday evenings.

Expect dry conditions this weekend with lows in the upper 40s and low 50s and highs in the low to mid 80s. Fires will remain active during the afternoon hours.

Next week will begin a warming trend that will reach into the upper 80s and low 90s.

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