Smoke column from a range fire near Capitol, MT. Photo: Kevin Hyde.

Welcome to the October 2020 Montana Drought & Climate newsletter. We hope that Montana farmers and ranchers find the information here useful.

Here’s what you’ll find in this newsletter:

Summer 2020 Review — Understanding current and past conditions aids in predicting future conditions. This section provides an overview of what happened this past summer.

Winter Forecast — The seasonal forecast discusses predictions for temperature, precipitation, and drought, as well as the global air circulation patterns that impact growing conditions and water availability in Montana.

Mid-century Outlook — What do Montanans need to do to prepare for the future? In this section we present projections of mid-century conditions across Montana. Comparing these projected conditions to current or past conditions gives an improved understanding of how to respond to a changing climate.

Reference — A helpful glossary of terms found in this newsletter.

In Brief

  • While June and July were near normal across Montana, August was hot and dry, leading to rapid onset of drought conditions across the state.
  • Soil moisture going into winter is low. It will be critical to monitor whether soil moisture improves prior to the winter freeze.
  • The NOAA seasonal forecast for December through February is for cooler and wetter than normal conditions due to a moderate La Niña climate event.

We want to hear from you… questionnaire coming soon!

We need your feedback on the MT Drought and Climate newsletter! In the New Year, we will send you a questionnaire to learn that you think about the climate information presented in the newsletter. Please consider taking the survey and letting us know what you think.

About Montana Drought & Climate
and the Montana Climate Office

Montana Drought & Climate is a USDA-funded project of the Montana Climate Office (MCO) at the W.A. Franke College of Forestry & Conservation at the University of Montana, in collaboration with the Montana State University Extension Service. The MCO is an independent state-designated body that provides Montanans with high-quality, timely, relevant, and scientifically-based climate information and services. We strive to be a credible and expert source of information for decision makers that rely on the most current information on climate to make important decisions. It is also the role of the MCO to assist stakeholders in interpreting climate information or adapting climate products to their needs.

Production of this newsletter is supported by Water for Agriculture Challenge Area grant no. 2017-67027-26313 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and by the Montana Water Center. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Montana Water Center, or the University of Montana. Please refer to the Montana Climate Office user agreement and disclaimer at

Montana Climate Office logo Montana Climate Office
Montana Forest & Conservation Experiment Station
University of Montana
32 Campus Drive
Missoula, MT 59812

P: (406) 243-6793