Smoke Be Damned: Fall Is Headed Our Way


It’s been bad around the Missoula and Bitterroot valleys these past couple months. Real bad.

Bow hunters I know say even the bull elk have grown hoarse in the smoke, belting out bugles that sound more like belches, 700-pound horned toads.

Betty’s Devine is selling sequined surgical masks.

Visine is in discussions with UM to become the title sponsor of Grizzly Stadium.

Cats have started coughing up charcoal briquettes instead of fur balls.

It’s that bad.

But a Pacific deliverance may well be headed this way. The National Weather Service says a cold front is set to resuscitate Missoula’s fall somewhere between Tuesday and Thursday next week.

Forecasters are floating such lust-worthy phrases as “high confidence of cooler temperatures,” “snow on mountain roads,” and the dirtiest of the clean talk: “high confidence of no more smoke.”

Hallelujah. Bring it on.

Some might ascribe the change to the flit of a butterfly’s wing halfway around the world, but that’s only partly right. NWS is crediting a rather larger force, in this case a “super typhoon” near Japan disturbing the mid-latitude Westerlies.

Alrighty then. We’ll take help however it may come.

And how about valley rain? Forecasters aren’t quite as confident in that yet, nor in substantial snowfall in the mountains, but they do figure we will finally drop well below freezing.

So, pull out your Carharts, harvest those tomatoes, and get ready to breathe in a proper Missoula October.



Paul Queneau is an avid outdoor recreationist, naturalist, and hunter. He works as conservation editor of Bugle Magazine at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, where he writes about, photographs, edits, and films wildlife. See and read more of his work on the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s website and Paul’s photo portfolio.