Forecast Calls for Record Highs

By Beacon Staff

HELENA (AP) – Montanans may still be reeling from Thursday’s near-record temperatures, but the forecast shows little relief in sight.

“We’re expecting a lot of records to be broken (Friday),” said meteorologist Connie Thomson of the National Weather Service’s office in Great Falls. “It’s a little early in the summer for temperatures this hot.”

The National Weather Service predicts Friday highs of 103 degrees in Great Falls, Bozeman and Billings; 105 in Havre and Helena; and 100 in Lewistown. The northern Montana community of Cut Bank, which has a reputation for bone-chilling winter cold, was also forecast to hit 100 degrees.

Swimming pools and even a mountain tunnel were among the options for Montana residents feeling the heat Thursday.

Cattle, which outnumber Montana’s nearly 1 million people by more than 2 to 1, took to the shade and drought-weary farmers who had been relieved by improvement in spring rainfall braced for damage to grain.

“Eighty-five (degrees) and above is high,” said Lynn Nordwick, whose dryland wheat grown in the Poplar area of northeastern Montana goes primarily to Portland, Ore., for export. “One-hundred and above is the killer. A few days don’t hurt as long as it cools down, but prolonged heat is devastating.”

Near Butte, the Merry Widow Health Mine usually sees more business on hot days as people head into its 55- to 65-degree environment, manager Elizabeth Kelly said. The coolness is a bonus for people who enter the mine, where people seek pain relief associated with radon exposure. The mine is actually a tunnel extending 450 feet into a mountainside.

Peter J. Peters of Osler, Saskatchewan, said he wore a jacket Thursday during his hour in the tunnel. The coolness was a pleasant contrast to the heat, although he said he was not bothered by high temperatures. Butte hit 91 degrees by mid-afternoon.

Veterinarian Dr. Bob Sager of Wilsall said cattle tend to be OK as temperatures edge into triple digits provided water and shade are available. Cattle seek the shade in late morning and stay there through the afternoon.

For his pigs, Sager said he uses a hose and some dirt.

“I’m making mud baths for my pigs twice a day,” Sager said.

Saturday’s forecast called for relatively cooler temperatures. The Weather Service predicted highs of 89 degrees in Great Falls; 90 in Helena; 93 in Bozeman; and 95 in Billings.