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Montana Drought Monitor map for April 13, 2021 shows around 60% of Montana facing drought conditions.
Deborah Bathke / National Drought Mitigation Center

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte’s office Monday released this year’s state Water and Supply and Drought Outlook report. Over 60 percent of Montana is facing drought conditions.

Montana Streamflow Forecast as of March 05, 2021.
Natural Resources Conservation Service https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/mt/snow/products/water+supply/monthly+conditions+overview/b0b3eb58-1a59-427a-b4cd-c34a63d1200f/

Montana’s snowfall last month increased the likelihood of near- to slightly above-normal spring and summer streamflows.

February is typically one of Montana’s drier months, but Lucas Zukiewicz says this February may wind up being one of those rare and fortunate exceptions.

Screen capture from a National Weather Service video showing wind blowing snow off of Point Six mountain near Missoula at 10:30 a.m., January 13, 2021.
National Weather Service

Powerful winds whipped across the state Wednesday toppling trees, power poles and knocking out electricity to thousands of Montanans.

Anyone hiking Wednesday morning on Missoula’s Mount Sentinel, just east of the University of Montana got a lot more fresh air than they bargained for. 

USDA / NMDC

Meteorologists last fall said Montana could be in store for a particularly cold and snowy La Niña winter. By late October, cold temperatures and record snowfall shattered regional records — but that wintery weather quickly gave way to much drier and mild conditions.

So what has happened to our winter, and what’s next?

'Field Notes:' How 'Moon Dogs' Are Made

Dec 29, 2020
A lunar halo, or moon dog. Ruka, Finland
Timo Newton-Syms (CC-BY-SA-2)

Moon dogs have many names: lunar halos, moon rings, or winter rings. Their scientific name is “paraselenae” and they are made visible by a combination of specific circumstances.

La Niña wintertime pattern.
NOAA

Fall weather didn't last long in Montana. Cold temperature and snowfall records have been shattered region-wide over the past couple of weeks.

Missoula broke a 47-year-old record this month. According to the National Weather Service, almost 19 inches of snow fell between October 1 and November 11. That’s about five inches more than during the same time in 1973.

Bitterly cold temperatures will combine with blustery east to northeast winds this weekend to create the potential for several very cold mornings with potentially dangerous wind chill values, especially for locations closest to the Continental Divide.
National Weather Service Missoula

Montana is about to get a blast of wintery weather the likes of which have never been recorded in mid-October. Forecasters say the powerful storm could have a major impact on early weekend travel and eventually usher bitterly cold Arctic air into the region by Sunday morning.

After near record-breaking heat this weekend, a significant cold front will bring a dramatic change to much colder, near record-breaking cold on Monday and Tuesday.
National Weather Service Missoula

The state is bracing for yet another round of dangerous wildland fire conditions Saturday, which will soon be followed by unseasonably cool temperatures.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Corby Dickerson says the weekend weather forecast is "gonna be a tale of two different weather patterns."

There was little new to report on Montana fires today. Most of the large fires in the state showed little growth as crews worked to take advantage of milder weather conditions to strengthen containment lines and mop up hotspots.

But don't let your guard down, because fire season isn't over yet. That relatively mild weather is expected to change this weekend. Much of western and central Montana is under a Red Flag order for Saturday, meaning an imminent critical fire weather pattern is occurring.

A wildfire that has blackened the base of Mount Sentinel east of the University of Montana is now 75 percent contained, according to a 9 p.m. update from UM.

The fire is burning east of Pioneer Court along the hill’s southern edge. At least two helicopters were dumping buckets of water on the blaze. The fire's growth is stalled out for now, according to the Missoula fire chief.

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