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Amid wildfires, there’s cooler, wetter weather pattern in the forecast

Posted at 9:51 PM, Aug 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-21 23:51:25-04

MISSOULA – It’s rare to see people this excited about rain, yet between texts and my personal Facebook page, I was inundated with the sheer glee that came with the drops falling from the sky.

It has been a long, long, LONG time since the rain has come down, nearly seven weeks. And the impact in the Missoula and Bitterroot valleys is positive.

“The amount of rainfall we got, the persistence of light to moderate rain throughout the day is going to be beneficial,” said National Weather Service Forecaster Corby Dickerson. “It’s going to be harder for fires to get started, it’s going to be harder for fires to grow rapidly.”

This is not to say that fire season can be put to bed in these areas, but it is a big step in the right direction.

However, we saw very little to no precipitation where the fires are at their worst, but the news isn’t all bad.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t get it exactly where we needed it. It certainly would have been more beneficial in northwest Montana,” Dickerson said. “We always try to look at these storm systems and come up with some positives, and one of the positives for them was cooler temperatures, cloud cover and higher humidity which then, in turn, keep the fire growth to a lower level.”

Even better is the best news may be yet to come. August 21 is too early to call for a wildfire “season-ending” event, but the near future weather pattern could have us knocking on the door.

“The long-range forecast models are all pointing towards a pretty good pattern change at the end of the month and the start of September. That should provide cooler and the potential for wetter conditions and perhaps more favorably wetter conditions in northwest Montana,” Dickerson says.

This would bring the potential of an earlier end to fire season than in recent years, which is welcome news to those ready for the smoke to go away.

Reporting by Russ Thomas for MTN News