August rain eases wildfire pain in below-average fire season

Wildfire season isn’t over for western Montana, but it has slowed considerably after successive weather systems cooled and dampened the region in recent weeks. 

Normally, a wildfire season doesn’t end until a mid- or late-fall season-ending event — usually a snowfall of more than a few inches. But unusual amounts of precipitation in August put wildfire activity on a trajectory to that end. Many fires around the region have considerably slowed in activity as firefighters increase their containment. Evacuations have been lifted; fire danger has markedly decreased.

According to the National Weather Service, this August was the eighth-wettest on record in Missoula, with 2.35 inches of precipitation recorded — well above the normal of 0.83 inches. August was the seventh-wettest on record in Kalispell. The 2.95 inches recorded there was many times the 0.76 inches the area normally receives in August. 

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But the month was also significantly hotter than normal — the eighth-hottest on record in Missoula. The month-long average temperature (including daily highs and lows) was 70.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or 3.4 degrees warmer than normal for August. In Kalispell, the average of 66.8 degrees was 3.1 degrees warmer

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