It's not as bad as last month. But Montana's air quality is taking a hit from another round of Canadian fire smoke.

And forecasters are warning any return to warm, dry weather will increase those impacts, perhaps as soon as next week.

Friday brought a return to the hazy, smoky conditions that are being created by the hundreds of fires burning in Canada after an unusually dry, hot spring. The fires in Ontario and the eastern provinces continue to cause the greatest impacts over the Northeastern U.S. Over the last few days, the air pattern has dropped back into the Upper Midwest, bringing in smoke from Northern Canada.

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That includes the fires in Northern British Columbia and Alberta which had impacted Montana last month.

The latest maps show the smoke concentration impacting Eastern Washington, where air quality Friday morning was "unhealthy for sensitive groups" in many locations. The smoke plume is arcing across the Idaho Panhandle, including the Kootenai-Cabinet region in Northwest Montana, around the Flathead, and down the Continental Divide. That's sending smoke as far south as Helena and east across the Hi-Line.


A number of stations reporting air quality impacts

Friday morning's cool temperatures and lack of wind also allowed the smoke to "pool" in some of the valleys.

So far, only a few locations are reporting air quality down to "moderate", including Thompson Falls, Libby, Frenchtown, Missoula, Cutback, and Great Falls according to Montana DEQ. 

A trend to cooler, wetter weather should help clear out the smoke this weekend before the concentrations strengthen. However, experts are warning the Canadian fires will continue to burn most of the summer, and fire activity could increase smoke impacts in the coming weeks.

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