A scorching week and weekend led north-central Montanans to find ways to beat the heat, including local retailers reporting a run on items to cool homes.
Greg Copeland, sales associate at the Havre Walmart, said window-based air conditioners have been selling for days. He said he couldn’t even give a good estimate on how many sold over the weekend.
“There were so many of them, ” he said, adding fans have been a popular item as well — “Box fans, upright fans, you bet. ”
The National Weather Service is forecasting a break from the extreme heat the rest of the week — mixed with thunderstorms throughout the period — but predicts a return to the high 80s by Sunday and Monday.
Hill County Sanitarian and Planner Clay Vincent said this morning that he has not heard of people having health problems with the heat — he has talked to people about it, but they generally are staying indoors.
“It’s pretty warm and the heat index, with the amount of moisture in the air, you can really feel it, ” he said. “The biggest thing, at a hundred degrees, if you spend a lot of time outside you’ve got to be sure you take in a lot of fluids. It’s just important to do it.
“Most people realize they just need to stay inside and drink a lot of water, ” he added.
Kmart assistant manager Randy Anderson said his store also has been selling a large number of fans and air conditioning units, and the supply is running low.
“We’ll probably get a few more fans, but I’m not sure about the air conditioners, ” he said. “I hope we get more. ”
Lochiel Edwards, who farms in the Big Sandy area, said the heat so far seems to mostly be speeding up the crops.
“The crops are holding up pretty well. Yesterday’s heat didn’t have a lot of wind with it, that helped, ” he said.
“I’m optimistic, ” Edwards said.
Mike Zook, Hill County Farm Service Agency executive director, said the heat may be cutting things back a bit in this county, especially following a week without moisture.
“It might have just taken (some crops) from excellent to very good, ” he said.
Hail has been a problem, with three storms in Hill County — June 28 north of Rudyard, July 12 in the eastern Bear’s Paw Mountains, and a severe storm July 13 that damaged crops near Box Elder and in the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation.
A lot more could happen, especially with many crops seeded late and being a long way from production. Zook added that weather like the area is seeing this year leads to thunderstorms.
“Any time you’ve got a year with high precipitation like this one you can predict there will be some crop damage, ” he said.
Edwards said he has not heard of as much hail in his region, and the crops seem to be doing well.
“The (winter wheat) crop is filling out quite well, ” he said. “The spring wheat is still a long ways off, but it’s looking good. ”
A bigger problem than the heat, so far, is the fungus — Edwards said some farmers are looking to lose some yield due to stripe rust, a fungal disease rarely seen in this part of the country.
“There was a real scramble and a lot of competition for fungicide, ” he said, adding that many farmers were helping each other out during the process.
Zook said that also is still a problem in Hill County, as well, and it looks like the fungus will impact yields.
“For the most part, people got in and got the problem addressed as quickly as they could, ” he said.