By Martin J. Kidston
As Havre, along with most of Montana, bakes in the late July sun and sets record high temperatures, the National Weather Service says chin up slightly cooler temperatures are foreseen in the days ahead.
Yesterday was probably going to be our hottest day for a while, said Bob Handell of the National Weather Service in Great Falls. Today will be quite warm, too, but come Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we may see a cooling trend.
Yesterdays temperature in Havre hit 102 degrees, falling 1 degree short of the record set in 1939. Todays high is anticipated to break into the upper 90s for the eighth time in nine days, and the effects are beginning to take their toll.
Hill County Extension Agent Bob Brastrup said the spring wheat crop is paying the price. Local crops are in jeopardy of producing low yields and as the heat wave continues, the prospect of crop recovery is looking grim.
For the spring wheat, this heat hurts it, Brastrup said. Were short of moisture now, and the results are producing low test rates and reduced yields. At this stage, were going to need a lot of moisture to save this stuff.
The National Weather Services drought composite predicts near normal precipitation for northcentral Montana, while the south and western part of the state enters a moderate drought. Only the extreme northeast corner of the state will see an unusual moisture spell.
At the citys water plant, the demand for water remains high, but according to plant supervisor Shelly Nolan, the city has been able to keep up with demands so far.
Our normal demand is around 3 million gallons per day (mgpd), and so far our max demand has been 4.4 mgpd, Nolan said. Were actually keeping up fairly good. However, in a long stretch of heat like this, we usually do keep up for the first few days. Generally, after that, well start losing 2-3 three feet a day in tank levels as the heat continues, and we cant replace that water until we get a rainy day or turn on the wells.
In 1996, Nolan said, the citys water tanks lost 15 feet of water in a few hours following three consecutive 100-degree days. However, with a few simple plant upgrades having been made, she doesnt expect the depletion to repeat itself on that scale.
So far, were doing OK, she said. Were maintaining.
There have been no reports of heat-related illness at the areas medical clinics.
The National Weather Service regional forecast is continued warm and dry with low humidity. Dry thunderstorms are expected to move across eastern parts of the state bringing little if any rain. Highs for the weekend are predicted in the 80s to near 90.