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Storms bring hail, rain, but drought remains

Clashing weather patterns have brought storms to the area that released damaging hail and short, heavy rains showers, but not enough to overcome the moisture deficit that has covered this part of the area in drought.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Paul Nutter in Great Falls said Thursday morning that reports came in of nickel-sized hail 9 miles west-southwest of Havre, 2-inch hail 5 miles west of town and tennis ball-sized hail 8 miles west.

He said other thunderstorms also caused hail in the area, but those were the largest-sized hail reported so far by 9:30 Thursday morning.

The storms also caused reports of heavy rain in the region, Nutter said, with some storms producing rainfall at a 1-inch-per-hour rate, including areas where a quarter-inch of rain fell in 15 minutes.

Nutter said no reports of serious flooding from the storms have been received by Weather Service as of 9:30 Thursday morning, although areas with limited drainage likely had some pooling.

Nutter said severe storms were again expected through Thursday evening with more storms, although likely not as severe, expected through Saturday.

He said after the weekend, the area was expected to move into a dryer, hotter pattern.

Nutter said a stable heat dome east of the region meeting a big trough of low pressure off the Pacific Northwest was creating a pattern of this area getting moisture and instability one day after the next, causing the severe storms.

He said having a couple days of weather like that is not unusual, but having several days to a week of constant weather in that pattern is a bit unusual.

He said the weather is likely to continue through Saturday, although what specific areas see is unknown.

"Some people will see nothing, other people will, unfortunately, be at risk of large hail and heavy rain," he said.

After two storms brought heavy rain to this area in early and mid-June, the amount of precipitation that fell in the region jumped dramatically, including causing heavy flooding in Beaver Creek Park, but the area still is in a major moisture deficit.

The map put out Thursday by the U.S. Drought Monitor showed much of Montana had moved into a moisture shortage or even no shortage condition, but this part of the state still was listed in conditions from severe to exceptional drought.

The reports for Havre show that for July 7, the station at the Havre City-County Airport had recorded .46 inches of precipitation for July, just more than the normal value of .45 inches.

Havre received 2.99 inches in June, a half-inch more than the normal value for the month.

But as of July 7, Havre was more than 2 inches short for the calendar year, receiving 4.90 inches from Jan. 1 through July 7 with the normal value 7.12 inches.

Havre also was more than two inches short for the water year that is measured from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, with 6.74 inches recorded with the normal amount 8.76 inches.


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