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Experts tracking fire conditions as Montana dries out

Posted at 5:05 PM, Jul 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-17 11:33:36-04

Experts are monitoring the fire conditions closely, as Montana's weather continues to heat up and dry out.

Meteorologist Dan Borsum said that even though there has been a lot of moisture in the state over the past year, that conditions can switch quickly.

"There's definitely a reason to be cautious as we go through the next couple weeks because there's not really any moisture in the forecast," Borsum said Sunday morning. "Right now, things look great out there, but that transition is going to occur quickly. We think after this weekend."

So far, it's been fairly quiet to start out the fire season. Currently, there are only 11 active fires in the state and none of which are considered to be large at the moment.

Borsum said that part of the delay is due to the flooding from last summer, which had moisture left over, to go along with a wetter summer than usual this year as well.

"One thing for southern Montana is that we really benefited from last year's May and June rainfall event that unfortunately did flood the Yellowstone," Borsum said. "That did help create a reservoir of moisture in the region."

That delay in fires has led to a longer ideal camping season in Montana. Colorado resident Bobby German spent the last few days with his wife at KOA Campgrounds in Billings exploring what the area has to offer.

"We love the outdoors, both of us do really," German told MTN Sunday afternoon. "We love to hike, we both like to mountain bike, and we like to stay active."

The couple's trip was centered around visiting North Dakota, which for them both was the 50th state they had traveled to. They figured on their way back home, they'd make a couple extra stops to enjoy the great outdoors.

"That was super important for us," German said. "I don't think we'd be traveling around if we were indoors the whole time, to be frank."

And the Germans aren't unfamiliar with wildfires. They noticed that skies are less smoky than in years past. That's thanks in large part to the extra moisture.

That moisture has led to significant growth in plants and trees in the area, and German knows that additional growth could cause big issues as the weather heats up.

"All that growth that's created from all of this wetness and the storms will eventually dry up," German said. "We know it's going to in some ways provide more fuel for these wildfires."

Borsum agrees that the wildfires will eventually affect the area as July continues to heat up, but for now he's encouraging people to go outside and enjoy the nature.

"Not every year do we have this much moisture and this much green hanging in, so enjoy it," Borsum said. "Just don’t assume three weeks from now just because it was good this week it’s going to be good then."