Bake or lake? Your choice as Montana set to break records
I certainly hope you saved your "hooky days" for this week because that might be your only way to get through the next few days, as Western Montana bakes under the most intense temperatures we've seen this summer.
Even if you make it to the lake (and stay submerged), temperatures through Thursday are going to be miserable, with highs climbing solidly into the triple digits.
And as typical in August, it's all because of a ridge of high pressure capping the heat down like putting a lid on a frying pan.
Forecasters with the National Weather Service office in Missoula say it looks like records will fall. In Missoula, the relatively recent records are Tuesday's 98-degrees from 2021, 98 for Wednesday, and 100 on Thursday, both of which were set last year.
"In fact, we are forecasting three record high temperatures for Missoula in a row, which is 101 degrees Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday," explains NWS meteorologist Alex Lukinbeal.
In Kalispell, the records are 96 degrees from 1994, 98 last year, and 99 from 2008.
Overnight warmth records look likely to fall too
"With those overnight low temperatures in the 60s and 70s that we're seeing, that's going to provide low relief and really create heat impacts," Lukinbeal says. "Especially for those who don't have access to air conditioning and and are exposed outside for long stretches of time.
NWS heat advisory for most of Western Montana
"We see a lot of compression of the air mass, which leads to the air mass heating up and that really causes the temperatures to soar into the one hundred and really sets the stage for some of these record heat values that we're seeing. So it's due to this really strong dome of hot dry air that's directly overhead and sinking," says Lukinbeal.
That's really bad in our narrow valleys, especially in Northwest Montana and in the mountains of Central Idaho.
While most of us will be worried about the heat, for firefighters it's the transition later in the week leading to critical fire weather. Lukinbeal says it will be hot, and dry with gusty winds.
"Those areas we're expecting to see hot, conditions setting up, especially on Thursday, that's where we have the most concern that existing and new fires are going to be able to spread quickly."
It's still too early to be certain, but the weather models are suggesting temperatures will moderate, with a chance of showers and thunderstorms next weekend.