West sizzles, forecasters say little relief ahead from heat wave

Staff Report

The Associated Press

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Oppressive temperatures have eased a bit in some parts of the West, but other places including Montana are baking under triple-digit heat.

Forecasters expect little relief in the days ahead, saying the weather system that brought the high temperatures could last well into next week.

In Montana, where cattle outnumber residents by more than two to one, both livestock and people are seeking shade and drought-weary farmers are keeping watch for crop damage.

Triple-digit records were set or tied in several Montana cities today, including Great Falls and Billings at 104 degrees each. The mercury reached 105 in the north-central Montana town of Havre and at the Gallatin Field Airport near Bozeman.

Along the coast of California, temperatures dipped. Phoenix reported a modest drop, from 115 degrees to 112.           

Officials say the fire season could turn fearsome following the dry heat. The National Forest Service reports at least 16 fires over 500 acres in size burning throughout the West.

Kelly Redmond is a regional climatologist for the National Weather Service. He says the heat will hover over most of the far West through at least the end of next week.