Posted: Aug 30, 2012 10:15 AM by Ed McIntosh
Governor Brian Schweitzer has issued an executive order proclaiming a state of emergency across Montana due to wildfire concerns. Drought conditions have steadily worsened across most of Montana and Wyoming through the spring and summer. The official readings at Billings Logan Field give us a snapshot of the severity of our conditions.
Billings remains on track to set a record for the driest year since measurements were first started at the airport in 1934. So far in 2012, Billings has recorded only 5.08 inches of total precipitation, including rain and snow water equivalent. That's slightly more than just half of the ten inches we would see on average by this time of the year, and well below the second place year of 1946, when 5.82 inches of precipitation had been recorded by the end of August.
2012 is also in a dead heat with 1961 as the hottest year for Billings. The average temperature from January 1st through August 21, 1946 was 53.6 degrees. For 2012, that number is 53.5 degrees. That number is reached by taking the midpoint of each day's low and high temperatures, and averaging them out over time. Based on the long term records, we'd normally expect the average to be closer to 50.1 degrees.
Not only is 2012 on track to set records as both the hottest and driest year, it's the only year that falls in the top 5 for both categories.
If there is some good news, it's that the number of severe storms is lower. Typically, The National Weather Service would have around 120 severe thunderstorm reports by late August. This year, the number is 35, easily the lowest of the past five years.