Edward O'Brien

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

Gun and ammunition sales are surging nationally, and Montana is no exception. According to the FBI there were over 3 million background checks last month, the highest for any May on record.

The National Instant Criminal Background Check system has logged over 15 million checks so far this year, putting 2020 on track to break last year’s high of 28 million.

It’s not your imagination: It’s been an unusually cool Montana May. That’s about to change in a big way.

A high-pressure system building over western Montana will lead to temperatures warming to near 90 degrees by Friday. That’s 15-20 degrees above normal for this time of the year according to National Weather Service-Missoula meteorologist Jeff Kitsmiller.

Montana Capitol.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

Montana’s term-limited Attorney General, Tim Fox, is seeking the Republican party’s gubernatorial nomination. Two Democrats and two Republicans are now jockeying for Fox’s open seat.

Edward O’Brien has this preview of the two contested primary races for the state’s next chief legal officer.

The University of Montana’s executive vice president and provost is leaving for a new position in online education.

The University hired outgoing Provost Jon Harbor just over two years ago. Harbor came to Missoula from Purdue University, where he served as an associate vice provost and the executive director of digital education.

Widespread heavy rain showers are rolling through Montana Monday evening. They are expected to intensify through the week, meaning rivers and streams will soon be on the rise.

Steady rain and driving rain storms will be the predominant weather throughout the northern Rockies this week, according to National Weather Service-Missoula hydrologist Ray Nicolas.

The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed how massage therapists, nail techs, tattoo artists and barbers do their work. Hair salons and other personal care services are reopening for business, but under new guidelines from state and local officials.

MTPR's Edward O’Brien got a haircut this week and takes us along to show what’s changed at one Missoula barber shop.

State health department officials gave legislators an update Monday on the agency’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials say that response has a lot of moving pieces, but they’re learning fast and keeping pace.

Missoula hasn’t had a new COVID-19 case in more than two weeks and the local health department says there are no active cases in the county. That means health orders affecting some local businesses are about to change.

The phones of Missoula barbers and hair stylists have likely been blowing up since this morning when word came down they’ll soon be back in business.

New national wildfire response plans released Thursday give us a better picture of what firefighting will now look like in the COVID-19 era.

The days of big fire camps, those self-contained cities that seem to magically appear in open fields overnight are, at least for this year, a thing of the past. Under new guidelines released Thursday, they’re being replaced with a system designed to foster proper social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fire experts are predicting an above average potential for wildfires in Montana later this summer. The state’s existing normal to slightly-above-normal snowpack buys us time, but anticipated warmer and drier than average conditions could significantly raise the stakes by late summer. 

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