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December started hot.

The weather station at the airport hit 66 degrees Wednesday, breaking the previous Dec. 1 record of 59 degrees, according to Austin McDowell, a forecaster with the National Weather Service. The station at Montana State University hit 63 degrees Thursday, setting another record.

Friday was far from frigid. Saturday’s expected to be warm and windy — a high wind warning is in effect, and gusts could top 40 mph. But the balmy conditions aren’t expected to last.

The National Weather Service forecasts the high temperature for Sunday dropping into the 30s, and that’s likely to carry through much of next week. Lows will be in the 20s and teens.

There’s high chance of snow Monday, though the accumulation was only expected to be about an inch, McDowell said. More precipitation could arrive later in the week, though it was too early to tell just how much there would be.

Any amount of precipitation would be welcome after a dry 2021 that resulted in drought conditions all over Montana, persisting even through November. The two local weather stations — at the airport and at Montana State University — recorded precipitation levels well below average for the month of November, both seeing less than an inch.

All of the state remains in at least moderate drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which released a new map Thursday.

The northern half of Gallatin County was in extreme drought, and the southern half was in severe drought. All of Park County remained in extreme drought, as did a portion of Madison County.

A big chunk of the state remains in exceptional drought, including parts of Madison and Beaverhead counties and several full counties in the north central and northeastern part of the state.

That area includes the town of Denton, which was scorched by a wildfire this week. The West Wind fire has burned more than 10,600 acres, and it took out 25 homes and 18 secondary structures, according to a Friday press release from fire officials.

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Michael Wright is the Chronicle’s managing editor. He can be reached at or at 582-2638.

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