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Lightning strikes across Montana

By Matt Gray, Meteorologist/Reporter, mgray@keci.com
Published On: Sep 17 2013 07:04:10 PM MDT
Updated On: Sep 18 2013 12:02:52 AM MDT
Lightning in Four Corners

Lightning as a thunderstorm passes over Four Corners Tuesday. Photo taken by Deza Rae Pitt.

MISSOULA, Mont. -

The onslaught began when over 300 lightning strikes were measured Sunday night. One bolt ignited the Miller Creek fire. The action continued on Monday as two rounds of thunderstorms in Southwest Montana produced 975 strikes. Tuesday began strong in Southwest Montana, with thunderstorms dropping 797 strikes before 11 am. By 5 pm Mountain Daylight Time, 2909 strikes had been detected. Most of the lightning activity Tuesday was again limited to Southwest Montana; specifically Beaverhead, Madison, and Gallatin Counties. 

Despite the cool temperatures and expected rainfall, grass and underbrush in Western Montana is still brittle and dry. Wildfire season may be fizzling into autumn, but by no means is it over. It isn't all that unusual to have this much lightning in September either. Summer doesn't officially end until Sunday the 22nd. It's the last gasp in what has been one of the hottest summers on record. Burn bans are still in effect for Ravalli, Granite, Missoula, and Silver Bow Counties. Stage 1 fire restrictions are still in place for Madison County as well. Another concern besides lightning is warming fires used by hunters. Forest Service officials tell us that it's important for people recreating on forest land to keep control of their open fires.