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'Juicy' Weather Headed To Parts Of Western Montana

The National Weather Service predicts cooler temperatures, thunderstorms, rain and the possibility of flash flooding for the weekend in parts of western Montana.
The National Weather Service predicts cooler temperatures, thunderstorms, rain and the possibility of flash flooding for the weekend in parts of western Montana.

The intense heat dome that’s parked over the northern Rockies remains in place through Saturday. But after weeks of extreme heat, parts of Montana could soon get a break and return to seasonal temperatures.

Montana’s hot, bone-dry weather this summer has been anything but ”juicy,” but that may be about to change.

That’s the word National Weather Service-Missoula forecasters used this week to characterize weather expected to bring wetting rains to north-central Idaho and western Montana starting Sunday.

“Which is a tenth of an inch of rain or more in 12 hours, says Meteorologist Joe Messina.

“Monday’s gonna be a day like we haven’t seen in a long time and I think people are going to be pretty happy about that.”

Forecasters say the Missoula area has a 40-percent chance of receiving wetting rains Sunday afternoon. Further south into the Bitterroot Valley those chances bump up to 80 percent.

The scattered showers will continue Monday. Localized flash flooding is possible, particularly in fire-scarred terrain.

Confidence is growing that the system could push into central and eastern Montana early next week.

The rain showers will continue into Monday, cooling temperatures to near seasonal averages in the 80s.

Does this forecast mean the fire season is almost over?

“No. A season-ending event is usually a long term snow storm where you have extended moisture,” Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation spokesperson Kristin Mortenson says,

“We definitely welcome the potential for moisture and will embrace it and capitalize on it if it arrives, but we will still continue to prepare for hot, dry and challenging fire conditions.

The 14-day outlook is calling for an average chance of above-normal temperatures and a better-than-average chance of below-average precipitation.

Looking further, interagency fire officials have forecasted above average fire potential in the Rocky Mountains through September.

Copyright 2021 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Edward O'Brien is Montana Public Radio's Associate News Director.