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Weather Wise: June Drought Update

Posted at 4:33 PM, Jun 10, 2024

The recent rain was a welcome sight at a time of year when there should be an abundance here in Montana. The period from late May through early June is climatologically the wettest time of year, a time when crucial precipitation falls before the drier months of summer.

Seasonal snowpack was below normal for most of Montana, with the exception of the last few weeks when storms dropped feet of snow in the higher terrain.

The month of May was a good month, temperatures were slightly cooler than average and precipitation was largely close to or above average. The plains were very wet, with the southwest mountains and valleys dry.

But June is off to a dry start as most of the state has had below-average precipitation.

The current drought map indicates most of the plains and approximately two-thirds of the state with no level of drought. About 33 percent of the state has moderate drought with 4.6 percent in severe drought, mainly along and just west of the Continental Divide.

The climate prediction center's outlook for the summer does not bode well. Temperatures across most of the west and most of Montana have a greater likelihood of being above average. and precipitation is likely to be below average.

Precipitation is critical in the next few weeks and right now the storm track seems farther north through southern Canada, leaving Montana drier and windy.

This all adds up to concern for this upcoming summer and fire season.