BILLINGS — With the exception of Wednesday's grass fire near Molt, late August skies across the Northwest haven’t been this clear in a long time.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Todd Chambers says there’s really two main reasons for all these clear skies: the lack of large wildfires and drought across the western United States. And the absence of high-base, monsoonal thunderstorms.
"The lack of drought is due to a wet winter and spring, and a good snowpack in the western mountains," Chambers said Wednesday.
He added, "Monsoons tend to bring high-base thunderstorms. And that brings wind and lightning. So the fact that we don’t have those two factors has kept the wildfire development low this year.”
And yes, Chambers says it has been quite a while since we’ve seen this little fire activity.
"This year would compare back to about 2013, 2014, as far as a year with this amount of acreage burned up to this date in August,” he said.
Although the Molt fire is a significant brush fire, it's low and should eventually burn itself out. In addition, the incoming cold front should bring cooler temperatures, some rain showers, higher humidity. All in all, we'll hopefully see a return of clear, smoke-free skies for the Labor Day weekend.