Rain Not Enough to Completely Erase Montana Fire Season
While last week's rain will help restore your lawn, Western Montana fire managers say it's not going to do much to erase the fire season as fall begins.
Up to half an inch of rain fell during the initial hours of Thursday's storm, marking the first significant rainfall in weeks. In Missoula, it actually broke a single-day record dating back to 1898!
That will help dampen down the tinder dry forests. But Montana DNRC Fire Prevention Specialist Kristin Mortensen says it will take a lot more rain, and snow, until the timberlands are safe.
"Definitely. We have a lot of what we call our heavy fuels, our thousand-hour fuels, which are those big dead and down logs and they're dry," Mortensen says. "And it takes extended periods of moisture to really saturate them. And so this little bit of moisture that's coming through won't touch them."
In fact, Mortensen explains many of the largest logs and trees won't become "fire safe" again until snow falls. And since it was so dry, for so long this summer, she says that could take longer.
The main concern is the high-pressure ridge that's settled back over the Northern Rockies the next two weeks, which is expected to bring warm, sunny days, with temperatures back into the 70s and 80s, combined with low humidity.
"We definitely need to not be complacent. Fall may be here, but it doesn't mean fire season is finished."
In fact, crews are continuing to work on several fires in the region, including the huge Moose Fire north of Salmon, Idaho, which has scorched more than 130,000 acres since it started July 17th. That fire is only 51% contained.