The current heat wave that has engulfed the western United States, and specifically Montana, shows absolutely no sign of relenting anytime soon.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Leeann Allegretto said Missoula is marching toward a new record of days above 90 degrees.

“As of right now for Missoula itself, we are now approaching the 17th day that we've been 90 degrees or higher, and that's only one beneath the record which was set in 2007,” said Allegretto. “That was also very early in July, but that ran about 18 days in a row where it was 90 and hotter. So we're getting there. We're approaching the current record.”

Allegretto said that 2021 stands ready to shatter that record.

“At this point, we're looking at least at another eight to 14 days of 90 degrees or warmer,” she said. “We may dip below 90 maybe like 89 if we get real cool, but we just don't see it. We don't see any major weather systems. We don't see any major breakdown of the ridge and no precipitation at all.”

Allegretto said the cumulative effects of the unrelenting heat can be dangerous for many.

“The dangerous part is that those who are susceptible to heat, prolonged heat who don't have the means to cool themselves off, start to have a bodily exhaustion component,” she said. “So we always say check on everyone who needs to be checked on, especially those who may not have air conditioning, who may not have a way of getting out and getting some fresh air or getting somewhere where they can find shade. In addition, you do what you can to minimize the exhaustion level, be it mentally or physically.”

Allegretto looked ahead at the forecast map and saw no relief in the form of rain for all of western Montana.

“Typically, we would love to see a closed low pressure system come off the Pacific coast and just dump on us, right? But we're not seeing that,” she said. “So what we're going to have to squeeze out will have to come out of thunderstorms. The unfortunate flipside of that is that with thunderstorms come more lightning and more wind. So, what we may trade in getting rain from a thunderstorm, we might sacrifice in starting new fires or exacerbating current fires because of the wind.”

See the extended forecast here.

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