BOZEMAN – A short-lived pattern change is coming to SW Montana beginning Thursday into Friday. Finally, a pacific storm will drop through the state producing increased showers and thunderstorms and cooler than normal temperatures.
Ahead of this system we are seeing a strong SW flow aloft. This is producing warm to hot temperatures and thick wildfire smoke from local fires and out of state fires.
There is an AIR QUALITY ALERT up for the entire state of Montana and Northern Wyoming through Thursday morning. Air quality ratings vary in the unhealthy range for most reporting stations across Montana Wednesday afternoon.
The National Weather Service issued a RED FLAG WARNING for SW Montana Thursday noon to midnight. Why? Thunderstorms are likely Thursday afternoon and evening. Strong erratic wind gusts around stronger thunderstorms could produce new fire starts.
In fact, the Storm Prediction Center has a “marginal” or low risk for damaging thunderstorms Thursday afternoon in the same area as the Red Flag Warning. Damaging wind gusts are possible.
There will be some wetting thunderstorms Thursday afternoon into Thursday night and more storms are possible in the early morning Friday with additional storms redeveloping Friday afternoon. It all depends on where the storms develop as to where the moderate to heavy rain bands will impact SW Montana.
Lastly, this upper-level Low will kick off a cooling trend Friday through early next week. Forecast highs will fall into the 70s to low 80s and that is slightly cooler than normal this weekend.