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Weather Wise: July Wildfire Outlook

Weather Wise: July Wildfire Outlook
Posted at 5:27 PM, Jul 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-12 19:27:12-04

Torrential thunderstorms have produced flooding rain thus far into July. Cities like Helena, Great Falls and Lewistown have already exceeded the average precipitation for the entire month just 11 days in. So what has this done for our fire season?

Although precipitation has been abundant, fire season is right around the corner and parts of Montana are still in long-term drought. The plains of north-central Montana off of the Rocky Mountain Front are in an area of exceptional drought.

Overall, the drought has improved significantly over the last year and even the last few months. One year ago, the entire state was at some level of drought. Now, it's just 50 percent. Three months ago, over 80 percent of the state was between severe and exceptional drought, now only 20 percent of the state is at that level.

Last year's fire season burned nearly one million acres in the state. Major wildfires such as the Deep Creek Canyon Fire and the Robertson Draw Fires had already consumed nearly 40,000 acres before the end of June last year. Air quality for most of the state was brutal through July and most of August.