Drought

National Weather Service

This was the second driest summer on record in Montana, but meteorologists say rain is finally on the way. 

Since July, the state has seen towns threatened by wildfires and choked with smoke, crops getting killed by drought and grass fires destroying rangeland. 

But a cold and rainy system entering Montana Thursday could put at least a temporary end to the suffering.

Neha Viswanathan / Flickr Creative Commons

Montana farmers planted fewer acres of wheat this year than they have in the past, thanks to significantly lower prices last year for the crop.

This year’s crop across the country is just under 46 million acres, the smallest since 1919.

Bison
Yellowstone National Park

More than half of Montana is currently in the grips of a severe drought, according to the latest numbers released by the U.S. Drought Monitor Thursday. And, as pastures shrivel up in the heat, ranchers are trucking in bales of hay and selling their cattle early.

But there’s another big, horned animal out there on the range. Bison.

Nate Hegyi / YPR

As the most severe drought in the nation continues to pummel ranchers and farmers in northeastern Montana, the National Weather Service says it isn’t ending anytime soon. 

Field Days: Drought

Jul 31, 2017
courtesy Sterling Small

On the final episode of the first season of Field Days, Northern Cheyenne rancher Sterling Small makes a tough call on his late-planted barley crop.

  

Dustin White, the Chippewa-Cree tribal water director, stands next to a water storage supply tank on the Rocky Boy's reservation.
Nate Hegyi / YPR

3,000 people might run out of water this summer on the Rocky Boy’s Reservation, but a bipartisan bill moving through U.S. Congress could bring some much-needed relief.

Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation

Governor Steve Bullock issued an Executive Order Wednesday declaring a drought disaster for 28 counties and five Indian Reservations.

Updated 6:50 pm

In addition to the Lolo Peak Fire, several other fires on the Lolo National Forest include a pair on the Ninemile ranger district. Those are the approximately three acre Sunrise Fire, located ten miles south of Superior, and the estimated 12-mile Burdette Fire is located about nine miles southeast of Tarkio. That fire showed minimal activity yesterday.

On the Seeley Lake Ranger District, the Monahan Fire is located about 17 miles north of Ovando and is burning near the Wilderness boundary in remote terrain.

Between Havre and Box Elder along hwy 87 looking south at the Bear's Paw Mountains. [ROCKY BOY'S]
Matt Lavin / Flickr

Dustin White, the Chippewa-Cree tribal water director, says it is one of the worst water shortages he’s ever seen on the Rocky Boy's reservation.

“I’m at the mercy of the weather right now,” White says.

Within two weeks, as many as 3,000 people could run out of water as relentless hot temperatures, a drought and a failed water storage tank cause water supplies to fall to critically low levels near the town of Box Elder in north-central Montana. 

A mixed bag of news today from the July fire burning south of the Fort Belknap Reservation in Phillips County. 

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