BOZEMAN – Latest update on the Montana drought monitor shows conditions worsening from SW to NE Montana.
The percentage breakdown is as follows: Exceptional Drought (D4) covers just under 6% of Montana. Extreme Drought is up to 49%. Severe Drought is up to 80% and Moderate Drought is at 99%.
SW Montana the Exceptional Drought rating covers SW and Central Beaverhead County into Central and Northern Madison County. The other area of Exceptional Drought is between Lewistown and Glasgow.
Most of SW Montana is under Extreme Drought conditions. West of Butte is dealing with Severe Drought conditions.
Week after week with no widespread precipitation will only worsen the drought conditions across the state. Some forecast models are showing some much-needed precipitation is possible late weekend into early next week but the overall 30 to 90 outlooks still show below normal precipitation and above normal temperatures are likely through early October.
Drought impacts are widespread across SW Montana impacting agriculture the hardest and now impacting rivers, lawn watering restrictions, and increased wildfire danger.
The current drought will most likely hit its peak sometime between early September and mid to late October.
Exceptional drought conditions will become more widespread over SW Montana in the weeks ahead and no real relief until we reach the winter months.
Unfortunately, the month of August is expected to be the most active for wildfires across Montana and that is partly due to the severity of the drought over the state.
Monsoonal thunderstorms can bring some isolated pockets of moderate to heavy rain, but they also produce numerous lightning strikes and possible new fire starts.