Dangerous Montana Fire Weather: Red Flag Warnings Across the State
Very dangerous wildfire conditions exist across the entire state, and this weekend will see record temperatures, erratic winds and dangerously low humidity. Existing wildfires will be difficult to contain and lightning could easily start new fires.
Various counties have various warnings and watches in effect. For some counties, Saturday is more dangerous than Sunday. For other counties, it's the opposite with Sunday's conditions more concerning.
Conditions may change quickly this weekend if we get dry storms with lightning. Dry conditions exist almost everywhere so the situation is indeed precarious.
According to the National Weather Service for Gallatin County and Park County:
- WHAT: FIRE WEATHER WATCH IS NOW IN EFFECT FROM SUNDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH SUNDAY EVENING
- WHEN: in effect from Sunday afternoon through Sunday evening.
- IMPACTS: Very Low humidity, near record high temperatures, and strong gusty winds will create erratic fire behavior.
- AFFECTED AREA: In South Central MT Fire Zone...123.
- COUNTIES AFFECTED: In South Central MT...Park...Sweet Grass. In Southwest MT...Gallatin.
- WIND: West 10 to 20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph turning northwest in the late afternoon.
- HUMIDITY: As low as 8 percent.
- TEMPERATURES: 85 to 100 lower elevations and foothills, 75 to 85 Mountains.
According to the National Weather Service for the Helena and Townsend areas:
- WHAT: Red Flag Warning for dry thunderstorms with gusty and erratic outflow winds
- WHEN: In effect from noon Saturday to 6 PM Sunday.
- WHERE: Eastern Glacier/Toole/Central/Eastern Pondera/Liberty, Hill and Blaine Counties, Lewis and Clark National Forest Rocky Mountain District-Rocky Mountain Front, Chouteau and Fergus Counties, Lincoln Ranger District of the Helena National Forest, Central and Eastern Lewis and Clark National Forest Areas and Helena and Townsend Ranger Districts of the Helena National Forest.
- TEMPERATURES...Mid 90s to near 105 on Saturday. Upper 80s to mid 90s on Sunday.
- WINDS...Southwest 10 to 20 mph, with gusts up to 35 mph. Winds will shift westerly Saturday evening and continue out of the west 15 to 25 with gusts up to 35 on Sunday.
- RELATIVE HUMIDITY...As low as 8 percent.
- Any new fire starts could be difficult to contain.
- THUNDERSTORMS...Isolated dry thunderstorms are possible late Saturday afternoon through early Sunday morning.
- Erratic gusts from showers and thunderstorms are possible.
- A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now, or will shortly. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior.