Rains refresh forests, bring lightning to the Bitterroot


Rains refresh forests, bring lightning to the Bitterroot

HAMILTON, Mont. - Washouts that closed a section of the historic Magruder Corridor Road in Idaho are a sign of how powerful thunderstorms are, especially after a burn like the Gold Pan Complex Fires last year.

Burned areas that took vegetation are recipes for mudslides.

Rains in recent days have refreshed the forest and the valley floor in the Bitterroot.

But lightning strikes are likely to be a problem.

NBC Montana talked with Bitterroot National Forest fire management officer Mark Wilson.

"Most of the locations (in the forest) have seen close to a half inch over the last two or three days," said Wilson. "So we had a good amount of precip."

But he said with that rain comes lightning.

"Too many to count,"he said. "Our maps have been covered (with lightning strikes) daily.

Every lightning strike is a potential fire.

"Each one of them could be a new start," said Wilson.

On Thursday, occasional rain showers left the valley looking fresh.

Clouds hung over the mountains, and puddles were everywhere.

Rain is always welcome to cropland in ordinarily hot August.

But it isn't good for farmers who have hay down.

They'll have to wait till it dries out before putting it up.

Showers meant a slow up in business for huckleberry picker Danie Zepeda.

NBC Montana met Zepeda at a tent covered stand on Highway 93 in Hamilton, as the rain came down.

She was selling the products of her hard work.

"Customers don't like to be in the rain," said Zepeda. "They don't like to get wet."

But as is typical in the Bitterroot, it wasn't long before the sun came out.

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