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Drought update, red flag warning for Friday, and thunderstorms Thursday

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Posted at 1:47 PM, Jul 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-22 15:47:33-04

BOZEMAN – The drought monitor update today is looking much worse compared to last week. Despite some isolated hit and miss thunderstorms over the last couple of days with some rainfall. Unfortunately, we need widespread heavy rainfall to put a dent in the drought over Montana and that is not in the forecast.

Percentage breakdown is as follows, Exceptional Drought 5.35% of Montana, Extreme Drought 45%, Severe Drought 77.36%, and Moderate Drought 96.18%.

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Over SW Montana this is the worst drought cycle since 2000. Exceptional drought is building over East Central Beaverhead County into central and Northern Madison County. Extreme drought has also expanded over SW Montana and now includes Butte. Severe drought is expanding westward through Anaconda to Hamilton.

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Thunderstorms are developing again Thursday afternoon and they appear to be more aggressive east of the divide. Dillon to Bozeman to Lewistown will be in line for stronger thunderstorms Thursday but the Storm Prediction Center has a “marginal” (green) risk for damaging thunderstorms from Bozeman northeast ward. A “slight” (yellow) risk is up for most of central Montana and this means a better chance for damaging thunderstorms.

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Next topic is wind Friday. Stronger surface winds are likely to develop Friday afternoon and early evening across most of Montana. Locally, a RED FLAG WARNING has been issued for SW Montana Friday afternoon and evening.

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Surface wind gusts 20 to 40 mph, humidity lower than 20%, and extremely dry conditions will produce extreme fire behavior. This means human caused fires can quickly turn into out-of-control fires so please be smart and avoid working and recreating outdoors Friday.

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Wildfire smoke is also returning to SW Montana and at times it could become unhealthy so plan accordingly this weekend.