weather

More wet weather is on the way to western Montana.
National Weather Service Missoula

Rainy and cool weather is pushing its way across the state of Montana and the National Weather Service says it's going to stick around for a while. Is the wildfire season-ending event we've long hoped for?

Lightning Photo: Courtesy of NOAA
Courtesy of NOAA

August was a stormy month at Montana Public Radio. On the evening of August 10, when Missoula experienced a remarkable thunderstorm with hurricane level winds, the MTPR team was all hands on deck keeping the station on air. Then 11 days later, a lightning storm crashed both the primary and backup transmitters for Missoula’s 89.1 frequency, and one intrepid engineer had a harrowing night on the mountain.

Air quality is poor across Montana due to wildfires burning in the western U.S.
Montana DEQ

Smoke levels across most of Montana spiked today, with air quality readings reaching "Very Unhealthy" in several locations, including Missoula, Great Falls, and the Flathead Valley; and reaching the highest warning level, "Hazardous" in Hamilton.

Meteorologist Kristen Martin with Montana Department of Environmental Quality says the smoke could get even worse before it starts to get better over the weekend.

flikr user Garry Knight (CC-BY-2)

The entire Northern Rockies will feel both immediate and long-term impacts of a powerful cold front moving into the region this weekend.

Meteorologist Genki Keno with the National Weather Service office in Missoula says the system hits western Montana Saturday afternoon. It packs sustained winds of 20 to 30 miles-per-hour with gusts of up to 40 miles-per-hour.

Missoula City-County Health Department

Wildfire smoke was almost bearable in some western Montana communities yesterday, but that's about to change.

The Missoula City-County Health Department says winds that have kept the smoke at bay for the past 24 hours or so are expected to shift to the west today. That could blow lots more smoke to the east.

In other words, there's a massive amount of smoke just over the mountains in Idaho and it's headed into Montana. That means air quality is going to quickly deteriorate. 

Montana air quality map.
Montana DNRC

Generally hazy and smoky conditions with only temporary relief could be with us for quite some time given all the wildfires burning in Washington, Idaho and Montana.

The state of Montana's air quality meteorologist, Kristen Martin explains what those air quality ratings mean, and how air quality is measured.

Governor Declares Fire Emergency In Montana

Aug 16, 2015
MT DNRC

Citing active wildfires and extreme fire danger across the state, Governor Steve Bullock has issued an executive order declaring a fire emergency in Montana. “Montana is facing extreme fire conditions. This declaration will provide additional resources to the brave men and women fighting these fires,” Bullock said of the declaration. 

Luke Robinson, National Weather Service Meteorologist
Edward O'Brien

The National Weather Service says western Montana may face another widespread and powerful storm system this week. Cleanup continues from Monday's storm that left a path of destruction in its wake and thousands without power for days. Edward O'Brien visited the NWS offices in Missoula to talk with Meteorologist Luke Robinson about Friday's forecast.

Hail and thunderstorms are possible in western Montana Friday.
National Weather Service, Missoula

The National Weather Service in Missoula is warning of another round of strong thunderstorms in western Montana Friday, with the possibility of hail and strong winds.

Northwestern Energy says some residents in Missoula's Linda Vista/Miller Creek area will likely be without power for another day.
Courtesy Danny Dauterive

Northwestern Energy says Missoulians in the Linda Vista/Miller Creek areas still without power probably won't have any until late tomorrow night.

Thunderstorms toppled power lines in the Linda Vista area of Missoula, MT.
Courtesy Danny Dauterive

Western Montana may get another dose of nasty weather this evening.

National Weather Service meteorologist Dave Noble says conditions very similar to those that created powerful and destructive storms yesterday could soon start moving into western Montana.

Another round of showers and thunderstorms will develop by early this afternoon across the Northern Rockies.
National Weather Service, Missoula

August 11, 2015 - 11:00 a.m.
Here is an update from the National Weather Service.

Cooler, wetter weather is forecast for July across the western U.S.
National Weather Service, Missoula

Persistent rain and cooler temperatures brought welcome relief to parts of parched western Montana this past weekend.

Fire managers say the rain has helped, but they’re also warning the public against letting its guard down.

Strong thunderstorms are possible in parts of western Montana today
National Weather Service, Missoula

Today will be an active thunderstorm day for the Northern Rockies, with a few storms capable of producing very heavy downpours, hail, frequent lightning, and gusty winds, according to the National Weather Service in Missoula. The best potential for strong storms will this afternoon/evening and stretch from Central Idaho through Southwest Montana. Those participating in outdoor activities this afternoon and evening should be prepared for quickly changing and inclement conditions.

Widespread thunderstorms for western Montana.
National Weather Service

Air quality in much of western Montana improved Friday as winds from the south pushed smoke into northwest Montana and Canada. Storms expected through early next week should mitigate smoke impacts in places where rain falls.

The storm destroyed some outbuildings on 66 Ranch outside of Havre
Courtesy Rylee Strauser

Thousands of Montanans had a 4th of July they won’t soon forget. A storm packing powerful winds, intense rain and large hail disrupted life  across the state’s northern tier last weekend. Some think tornadoes touched down, but meteorologists aren’t yet willing to go that far.

A roughly 300-mile stretch of northern Montana is still cleaning up after a powerful storm swept across the region this weekend.

Thunderstorms And Showers Possible Tuesday

Jul 6, 2015
National Weather Service, Missoula

Via National Weather Service, Missoula: Monday will be mostly quiet across the Northern Rockies, with the exception of a few afternoon thunderstorms from central Idaho to southwest Montana. More active weather is anticipated Tuesday, with showers and thunderstorms possible across a wide swath of central Idaho and western Montana. These storms will be capable of brief heavy rain, gusty winds, and frequent lightning strikes. In addition, a backdoor cool front will bring another round of breezy east winds across western Montana by Tuesday evening.

A.J. Coulter guides fly fishing trips on rivers all around Montana. Recently, he’s been starting his trips earlier in the day to avoid angling in heat of the day so as to not catch unhealthy fish.
Corin Cates-Carney

Fish, and maybe you, are getting stressed out in this summer heat. But for fish, stress is made worse when, on top of trying to stay cool, they have to avoid eating a fly tied to a line.

In the heat wave of the past few weeks, guides and regulators have worked to protect fish during a time when fish are very vulnerable.

Heat Safety Checklist

Jun 25, 2015
Extreme heat safety checklist
National Weather Service, Missoula Montana

Historic high temperatures are forecast across western Montana for this weekend and into next week. Here are some tips for staying safe in extreme heat.

National Weather Service, Missoula

The National Weather Service warns an intense and prolonged heat wave will bring dangerously hot temperatures to western Montana this weekend.

"I am not hesitant to use the word 'historic' for this event," Weather Service meteorologist Dan Zumpf explained.

Flickr user nataliej (CC-BY-NC)

The first part of June brought badly-needed rain to Montana, but it's barely making up for a particularly dry month of May.

Eric Whitney

Backcountry skier Ryan Swantner is willing to work hard to get in his turns, but lately he’s had to work harder than usual.

Weekend Snow Headed To Western Montana

Jan 10, 2015
National Weather Service

Light to moderate snow will gradually overspread the region through Sunday morning creating hazardous travel at times. Mountain passes are expected to generally receive 3-6 inches of snow, while the valleys of western Montana see anywhere from 1-4 inches with only a light dusting possible for north central Idaho valleys. Slick roads are likely, especially back streets and parking lots which have not entirely cleared out from the last storm.

Video: High Impact Winter Storm Briefing For Western Montana

Jan 2, 2015
National Weather Service

A potentially long-lasting winter storm will affect the Northern Rockies this Sunday through at least Tuesday and bring heavy snow and mixed precipitation. Watch the storm briefing below.

"Bottom line is we could be talking about a winter storm that could last several days and impact a lot of people."

Flickr user nataliej (CC-BY-NC)

July rain showers are rare, but welcome events in western Montana.

Many early-risers in our listening area awoke to just that this morning and weather forecasters say more of the same is coming.

National Weather Service meteorologist, Genki Kino, says this morning's rain was the first measurable precipitation in Missoula for this month. Nearly two-tenths of an inch of rain fell between 4:30 and 6-a.m.