The continuing warm, dry conditions that have already extended the fire season are expected to last through the winter, which could intensify and expand the drought in Montana, officials said Thursday.
An El Nino weather system is strengthening and may not weaken until spring, increasing the likelihood of warmer winter temperatures and drier conditions, Gina Loss of the National Weather Service told the Governor's Drought and Water Supply Advisory Committee.
The means the current drought is likely to persist or intensify in western Montana and expand to more of central Montana, Loss said.
The state's most recent moisture and water supply map shows severe drought in 13 western and central Montana counties and moderately dry conditions in nine others, despite some much-needed precipitation in September.
Harold Gemmell of the Northern Rockies Coordination Center said the conditions have extended the fire season, and many seasonal firefighters have already departed for the year. “Some of our large fires are still giving us some problems,” he said.
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Source: Associated Press
by Matt Lavin