2013 had the fourth driest May and June Missoula has seen in 30 years.
Rain that we're expecting may improve conditions, but it would take a long-term period of above-average rainfall to get us back to normal. Meteorologists are not expecting that.
We need to make up for a lot of dry ground.
The Missoula Livestock Exchange brought horse buyers and sellers from all over the state Tuesday.
Marion Tucker McArthur came from Dillon with a stud, a mare and a colt.
"Brought some horses over to get rid of because it's just so dry," said McArthur, "and just try to save what I got in pasture."
Marion still has horses at home. But she said it's really dry. Dillon got some rain, she said, but we need more.
Southwest Montana has been in what is called a long-term drought, said National Weather Service senior and incident meteorologist Bob Nester -- "a precipitation deficit over 6 months."
Missoula's not that dry. Much of Montana is doing OK.
A horseman at the horse sale said his hometown of Polson looks good.
But Nester said the drought from states farther south is moving north.
"Our latest outlook has the abnormally dry area with west-central Montana into the Missoula area," he said.
June may be Montana's greenest month. The country around Missoula looks pretty. The hills still hold that light green hue. But the grass is getting dry.
"We need about two and a half inches of rain between now and the end of June," said Nester.
Erin Scott has a solar-powered irrigation system on her small farm near Frenchtown. She and her farming partner are working hard every day to make sure everything stays wet.
She toes the ground with her foot, to show just how dusty it is without irrigation. But she also shows that just inches under ground there is moisture.
The Weather Service said past records show it's unlikely Missoula will reach normal rainfall amounts by the end of June. But it's possible.
Nester said in 2009 Missoula had one of the driest Mays and Junes on record, but received a lot of rain in July so fires were minimal.