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Low rainfall in Montana means longer drought

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Billings, Montana – This summer in Montana has been extremely hot with little rain, and it appears that this pattern will continue into the fall.

“Right now the entire state of Montana is anywhere from abnormally dry to extreme drought conditions. 65% of Montana is in anything from severe to extreme drought conditions as we speak,” said Tom Frieders, the warning coordination meteorologist with the NWS in Billings.

The dry late winter and early spring months are to blame, making things worse in the months ahead.

“In fact, many areas, at least across eastern Montana, have seen some of the driest May and Junes on record. May and June are typically the wettest months, so when you produce some of the driest months on record that’s what causing the degradation and the drought conditions across the regions, and that’s our critical time of the year in Montana to get moisture, especially in portions of the eastern part of the state,” said Frieders.

“Just in the Billings area alone for the year we are down to four inches of rainfall. So, our average is right around over eight inches. We’ve been really lacking. A half an inch here, a half an inch there, it really continues to build and that’s how we’re in this four inch deficit,“ said Tracy Smith, a Chief Meteorologist.

This trend isn’t expected to stop anytime soon, according to the National Weather Service.

“So, for the rest of the summer our outlooks are indicating this trend kind of continuing. The trend of above average temperatures and below average precipitation into the early fall months. So, not a lot of good news there. I think we are in this in the long haul for the rest of the summer and into the fall,” Frieders said.

Less rain means decreasing water reserves, and farmers and ranchers are feeling the impact of the consequences.

“When your farmers and ranchers are feeling those effects, it really not only impacts the state but also the entire U.S. who are outsourcing those products on a much greater scale,” said Smith.

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