Montana has gone months without needed rain, creating one of the worst drought and fire season in recent memory.
Several cities are experiencing their driest year-to-date with little to no rain at all since early spring.
Farmers and ranchers have endured a devastating growing season with major losses reported across eastern parts of the state.
Dangerously dry conditions have also fueled an unprecedented fire season with more than 1,000,000 acres of land going up in flames.
The STORMTracker Weather Team says confidence is now high that a major pattern change will take place later this week.
The season's first major storm system is expected to move through the Northern Rockies, bringing a sudden end to the hot, dry weather.
On Wednesday, a cold front is expected to move across the region, opening the door to cooler air to move into Montana.
As an upper low begins to move overhead, moisture will spread in, and a few showers and thunderstorms will develop as early as Wednesday morning.
By Thursday, widespread rain is expected to develop across central Montana.
That rain is expected to continue off and on through Friday evening before the storm moves out on Saturday.
Much colder air is expected to move into the state on Thursday night, and the rain will change over to snow at higher elevations.
Computer forecast models continue to suggest this storm will bring significant rain to central Montana.
At this time, the STORMTracker Weather Team is calling for 1-2" of rain along and east of the Rocky Mountains. Depending on how the storm sets up, some areas could receive locally higher amounts of rain.
In addition to the rain, the first snow of the season is expected in the mountains.
Snow is not expected at lower elevations at this time.
It appears 1-3" of snow will be possible above 6500' elevation along the Rocky Mountain Front and over the mountains of central Montana.
The STORMTracker Weather Team is working hard to pinpoint this storm's exact impacts, so stay tuned for frequent updates this week.