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Parched Grass

Parched grass is backdropped by Mount Helena on Thursday afternoon. Helena recorded this year its driest July, with only one-hundredth of an inch of precipitation measured for the month.

Helena recorded this year its driest July with only one hundredth of an inch of precipitation measured for the month.

The National Weather Service in Great Falls recorded lower than average July precipitation in several parts of central and southwest Montana, including the 10th driest for Bozeman, the 7th driest in Great Falls and the 2nd driest in Dillon. Many areas across the state saw less than a quarter inch for the month.

Helena’s second driest July was in 2005 when seven hundredths of an inch of precipitation was recorded. Helena on average receives 1.19 inches of precipitation in July.

For the water year, which began in October, NWS has recorded 14.18 inches of precipitation in Helena, according to meteorologist Jane Fogleman. While that is well above the average of 8.91 inches at the end of July, early melt sent much of that reserve downstream.

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Dry July

“The 14.18 inches actually makes this the 12th wettest for water year, we did have a lot of snow," Fogleman said. "But of course, the thing is a lot of it melted so rapidly that a lot of grasses and plants and fuels didn’t have a chance to absorb it as much.”

The prospect for precipitation in the immediate future looks fairly dim as fire dangers continue to rise. NWS declared a red flag warning for critical fire weather through Friday afternoon.

“With high pressure we have a chance of precipitation here or there, but really in many cases we’re expecting this dry spell to continue,” Fogleman said. “For six and even 14 days out, I’m not seeing much in the way of precipitation.”

Reporter Tom Kuglin can be reached at 447-4076 @IR_TomKuglin

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Natural Resources Reporter

Natural Resources Reporter / Assistant Editor for The Independent Record.

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