By Pete Soyer
The hot weather that stopped in Havre last week did more than drive people to drag out the family pool and lay in the sun. It dried up the small amount of grass ranchers have for their cattle and it gave farmers good days to harvest.
Greg Baltrusch, a farmer and rancher who lives about five miles northeast of Havre, said the heat didn't hurt his crops.
"The grain was already ready to be cut. It made for good harvest weather," he said.
Baltrusch said the heat lets harvesting go all day and all night. The high temperatures kept dew from forming on the grain so farmers can keep harvesting as long as they want, he said.
He added that the heat was drying up the grass in his pasture and taking the small amount of moisture in the ground.
"Whatever moisture we did have, it dried up," he said.
Kathy Bradbury, who farms and ranches with her husband, Bill Bradbury, about 25 miles south of Havre, said the heat definitely hit them.
"Oh yeah. We've had to haul water two to three times a day" to the cattle, she said.
Bradbury said the pastures on their ranch were already short on grass and the high temperatures "toasted it."
The recent heat wave just added to a summer without sufficient moisture.
Bradbury said she hasn't seen the weather this uncooperative since the drought in 1988, "but it wasn't this bad."
Havre was the hot spot in Montana on two recent days, reaching 109 degrees Aug. 3 and 107 Aug. 8. Both were record highs for Havre on those dates.
Havre was not the only triple digit city in Montana Aug. 3. Hardin had a temperature of 108 degrees and Glendive reached 105. Billings, Belgrade, Baker, Broadus, Great Falls, Livingston, Malta, Miles City, Roundup and Helena also hit the triple digits, according to The Associated Press.
John Blank, a meteorologist in the Great Falls office of the National Weather Service, said the cold front that moved in Wednesday should keep temperatures between 75 and 85 degrees this week.
Ken Mielkely, head meteorologist in Great Falls, said Havre is usually a hot spot in the summer.
"It's not unusual. This year we think it's averaging about two or three degrees above normal."
Mielkely said the recent high temperatures came in with a high pressure ridge moving over the West.
He said a high pressure ridge is made of clear skies and warm temperatures. A low pressure ridge carries storm clouds and colder temperatures.
Another reason Havre has seen high temperatures recently is due to the lack of moisture, Blank said.
He said when the sun shines on soil that has moisture, some of the heat evaporates with the moisture, "but if there is no moisture, the heat just goes into heating up the ground" and the air around it.
According to the Great Falls office of the National Weather Service, the high temperature in Havre Wednesday was 78 degrees and the high today will be near 80.