Air quality in Missoula ranked among the worst in the U.S. on Monday, with wildfire smoke locally and from around the region inundating the Missoula and Bitterroot valleys.
The smoke-choked skies also represented the worst air quality in the area so far this year, but conditions could improve somewhat after Tuesday.
Around noon Monday, air in Hamilton registered 243 on the 500-point Air Quality Index, down from a high of 308 at 9 a.m. The noon measurement placed Bitterroot Valley air in the “very unhealthy” category, according to the U.S. Air Quality Index, meaning that it was a health risk to everyone. The morning’s measurement of 308 crossed into the “hazardous” category indicating “health warning of emergency conditions: everyone is more likely to be affected.” Hamilton’s AQI values had been hovering around 170 on Sunday afternoon.
Air quality in Missoula was only slightly better. At noon Monday, air in town measured 169 — solidly within the “unhealthy” category and relatively unchanged since about 6 p.m. Sunday. Air quality earlier Sunday was down into the less severe “unhealthy for sensitive groups” category.
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