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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Forecast shows a welcome break from July's heat

By Jason Stuart

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

July 2017 will go down as one of the hottest in Glendive’s history as extreme high temperatures and drought conditions maintained an iron grip across northeastern Montana throughout the month.

The average high temperature in Glendive for July 2017 was 94.6 degrees, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Rex Morgan with the weather service’s Glasgow reporting station. That average high was nearly 7 degrees above the norm for the month, which is 87.9 degrees, placing July 2017 as the 10th hottest July in Glendive’s history. However, while the month was hot throughout, with the mercury climbing over 100 degrees on a few days, Morgan noted that there were no new record high temperatures recorded during the month.

Rain also continued to be scarce through July, though the Glendive area continued to fare better than other communities in the region. The weather service officially recorded exactly 1 inch of rain in Glendive this July. The historic average for the month is 1.88 inches, with July 2017 going down as the 33rd driest July in Glendive’s history.

However, while the area wasn’t that far off the mark for July precipitation, Glendive’s precipitation deficit for the year to date continues to grow ever larger. Through the end of July, Glendive has seen 5.99 inches of rain, more than 3 inches less than the historical average to date, which is 9.01 inches. With seven months of the year now in the books, Glendive is currently sitting on its 15th driest start to a year in its history.

As July turns to August, at least some relief from the heat is in sight, though any significant rainfall appears to remain elusive.

The weather service is forecasting high temperatures to drop into the mid to low 70s beginning Wednesday of this week. Temperatures are forecast to begin rising back into the low to mid 80s over the weekend, but there are no days forecast to reach over 90 degrees again until the very end of next week.

“It’s going to certainly cool down,” Morgan said.

Whether the cooler temperatures represent a clear shift in weather patterns remains to be seen, and Morgan cautioned that more hot weather could be down the road in August, but he noted that the ridge of high pressure that’s been parked over the region for the last couple of months looks like it may be moving on, which would certainly help alleviate some of the worst of the extreme heat.

“(The high pressure ridge) is certainly starting to shift to the east and give us some relief and we’re starting to get some cooler air down from Canada as well,” Morgan said. “I would hesitate calling it a change in the weather pattern, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.”

More steps in the right direction are needed though, as Morgan noted that both the one-month and three-month climate outlooks are currently predicting a continuance of above average temperatures and below average precipitation for northeast Montana.

However, he also offered a sliver of hope in those long-term outlooks by noting that more often than not, they prove incorrect.

“Honestly, those outlooks do not perform very well,” Morgan said.

Reach Jason Stuart at rrreporter@rangerreview.com.

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