Montana smoke won't overshadow eclipse today


An AIR QUALITY ALERT is in place for Missoula, Ravalli, and Granite counties through Monday morning. We will continue to see smoke from the Liberty, Rice Ridge, Lolo Peak, Sunrise, Sapphire Complex, and other fires in Idaho produce periods of unhealthy air. This will be especially true in the morning hours when Hazardous air quality is possible around Lolo, Seeley Lake, and Superior and Alberton.

For places like Butte, Dillon, and Bozeman, expect the air quality to improve after sunrise and downgrade again in the evening as smoke is blown your direction from these fires. Air quality at short-term exposures won't be as bad as what we see closer to the fire lines. People who are particularly sensitive to smoke in southwest Montana may feel effects between evening and mid-morning.

Temperatures will reach the upper 70s to mid 80s in the afternoon. As the solar eclipse moves overhead between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. we will see temperatures either remain steady or drop slightly between 10 and noon. Temperatures will rapidly warm as the sun re-emerges from behind the moon.

The good news for eclipse watchers is that there are very few clouds expected in the region by the time the eclipse starts. Smoke in the region shouldn't disrupt the view, and it will be an excellent day overall to watch this amazing event.

We will begin to warm significantly after Monday, reaching the upper 80s to mid 90s Wednesday afternoon. Highs could hit 90 degrees in places like Missoula, Superior, and Libby as early as Tuesday. Some monsoon moisture should arrive Wednesday and bring a chance for a few isolated thunderstorms.

Thursday will be windy and unstable as a strong system slides down from Canada. Thunderstorms are likely from the southern Bitterroot Valley to Butte, Helena, Dillon, Yellowstone, and Bozeman. Gusty winds and lightning will enhance the fire danger while rain will be spotty. We will be monitoring conditions for this day closely!

Hotter weather continues into next weekend.

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