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El Niño Could Expand Drought To Eastern Montana

Seasonal drought outlook
Seasonal drought outlook

The continuing warm, dry conditions that have already extended the fire season are expected to last through the winter, forecasters say.

Gina Loss of the National Weather Service said today that an El Niño system is strengthening, increasing the likelihood of warmer winter temperatures, drier conditions, and possible expansion of the state’s drought to central Montana.

“Considering that those areas that are in a drought right now are not going to get enough precipitation to really show any improvement, and because of the better chances for below-normal precipitation, they are expecting drought development in central and eastern Montana.”

Western Montana has experienced drought through much of the year. Harold Gemmell of the Northern Rockies Coordination Center says the conditions have extended the fire season.

“With the prolonged dry and warm weather that we've had, its extended our fire season a little bit. With the large fires we had on the landscape this past summer we’re still doing a lot of mop up and control on those large fires, knowing that without significant precipitation event those fires are going to be going on for some time ”

Gemmell and Loss spoke to  the Governor's Drought and Water Supply Advisory Committee today in Helena.

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