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Entries in Montana weather (81)


Frost, then more smoke for the valleys of Western MT

NWS graphic(MISSOULA)- If you've been thinking "it feels like September", Sunday's weather should convince you the seasons are about to change in Western MT, with frost advisory up for some of the lower elevation valleys.

The National Weather Service had issued a frost advisory for most of Northwest Montana, including the Kootenai-Cabinet region, and the Flathead and Mission Valleys for Sunday morning. The warnings also extend into the Missoula and Bitterroot Valleys. 

Forecasters say many locations could drop well into the 30s by Sunday morning, especially in traditionally colder areas, such as Polebridge and the North Fork, Olney and Seeley Lake.  NWS was advising people to take precautions to protect sensitive plants close to the ground. 

After the cold snap, temperatures are expected to rebound Sunday, with most locations reaching into the 80s. 

The forecast is also for a return to more smokey weather, as fire smoke pushes back into Western Montana from the fires burning in Idaho and Washington. 


Fire weather rakes across Western Montana

(MISSOULA)- It's the kind of weather which brings fear to the heart of long-time Montanans; the arrival of a strong August cold front during one of the worst fire seasons in years. 

The cold front pushed across the western half of the state Friday, prompting the National Weather Service to issue Red Flag Warnings from Libby to Dillon and east to the HiLine. Winds gusting between 20 and 40 miles per hour, combined with low humidities and the extreme drought conditions raised fears of new fire starts.

The one thing that was playing into our favor was that temperatures stayed relatively low, only reaching into the mid and upper 70s in a few locations. 

And once the cold front passed, temperatures started to plunge. NWS reports temperatures dropping by as much as 20-degrees across Northwest Montana during the late afternoon and early evening. A few thunderstorms were being generated, but without the intensity of a similar cold front last Friday, when dozens of lightning strikes started storms across the region. 

In the high country of Glacier National Park, temperatures had fallen into the low 30s, with periods of snow showers reported for a time Friday evening. 

Red Flag Warnings were set to expire Friday night. However the cold weather may still have an impact this weekend. NWS had issued a Frost Advisory with forecast temperatures expected to drop into the low 30s, even in some of the lower valleys Sunday morning. 


Drought assistance coming for 15 Montana counties 

U.S. Drought Monitor map from July 7(HELENA)- 15-Montana counties are being declared as disaster areas because of this year's long dry spell. 

Much of Western Montana moved into "extreme drought" conditions as June brought record high temperatures and some of the lowest precipitation totals in decades. That designation, known officially as "D3-D4" is the second highest level of drought monitored in the United States. 

Now, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has informed Governor Steve Bullock the U.S.D.A. will list 15-counties as primary natural disaster areas because of the drought. The list includes Missoula, Ravalli, Lake, Flathead, Mineral, Granite, Sanders, Lincoln, Glacier, Silver Bow, Powell, Pondera, Lewis and Clark, Deer Lodge and Beaverhead Counties. 

The designation opens the doors for farmers to apply for emergency loans and assistance programs within the next 8-months. 


Glacier soaked by nearly an inch of rain 

Glacier still stormy today, but heavy rains have eased- GNP photo(WEST GLACIER)- A flash flood watch has been canceled for Glacier National Park, where up to an inch of rain fell during intense storms on Tuesday. 

The National Weather Service had issued the watch following the heavy rains that swept through West Glacier and the west side of the park, raising the potential of flooding from some of the higher elevation creeks. However, with rains easing to showers this morning, the watch was canceled just after 7 a.m. 

The potential for flash floods can be especially dangerous this time of the year in the park, with more visitors entering Glacier at the same time creeks are already running high with snow melt. A few years ago, flash flooding in early summer kicked up a major rockslide that nearly hit several cars on the upper stretch of the Going-to-the-Sun Highway. 


Unseasonably warm weather sets new records across the state

GNP webcam photo of Lake McDonald, where temps were near 50(MISSOULA)- Monday was one another one for the record books, as sunshine and high pressure over the Northern Rockies resulted in temperatures more suitable for spring or even little summer than January. 

After Sunday saw some places such as Hamilton spike into the 60s, Monday brought even more widespread warming, with most corners of the state running 15-to-25 degrees above normal for this time of the year. 

The National Weather Service reported Roundup was officially the warmest in Montana at 68-degrees. Contrast that with Wisdom, in the Big Hole, where it was only 13-degrees Monday morning. 

 Butte set a new record at 53-degrees, breaking the old record of 49 set in 1998. Miles City set a new record with 58-degrees, Billings was 56 and Livingston had topped 62-degrees by early afternoon. That was only the second time Livingston  had been this warm in January since records were kept, dating back to 1948. 

Great Falls was the warmest of the state's largest cities, hitting a high of 67-degrees. 

The contrast was best illustrated by the unofficial reading at Georgetown Lake near Philipsburg, where the thermometer topped 50-degrees, just three weeks after the temp had plunged to 35-below.