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Montana on Fire: Extreme Conditions Continue

Posted at 7:27 PM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 21:29:53-04

It does not get much worse than that. Powerful wind, a significant wind shift, hot temperatures and very dry conditions led to multiple wildfires that quickly got out of control across Montana. A wildfire on the west side of Helena grew quickly and experienced a change in direction with the afternoon wind shift. Another large fire south of White Sulphur Springs reportedly burned some buildings, possibly a few homes. A fast moving fire sparked near Moccasin in the central part of the state. The entire town of Jordan was evacuated because of a rapidly moving fire, that evacuation has been lifted and people can return to their homes. Another couple of big fires developed south of Roundup and just north of Busby. These conditions were extreme with temperatures in the 80s and 90s, humidity below 20%, but the wind was the worst with gusts between 40-60mph. Wind is and will continue to settle down through the night. Thursday will be another dangerous day as temperatures will warm back into the 70s and 80s with a west wind increasing to 20mph in the afternoon - not as bad as Wednesday but wildfires could still take off quickly in these conditions. Friday will be warm with temperatures in the 80s to around 90 with a lighter afternoon west wind. This weekend is Labor Day Weekend and it will start out with more extreme fire danger. Saturday will be very hot with highs in the 90s, humidity will be low, and the wind will be very strong out of the west up to 40+mph. These conditions will be similar to the ones experienced on Wednesday. Please use extreme caution to not spark a new fire. Sunday will be sunny, windy and dry again. Late in the day a cold front will move south through the state with another significant wind shift. That front will bring major changes on Labor Day. Widespread rain is likely with a chance of snow levels lowering to around 5000'. This system could put a serious dent in the fire situation, but there are still several more days of extreme danger before the rain likely moves in.
Stay safe.
Curtis Grevenitz
Chief Meteorologist