The 'biggest' small talk in Missoula this winter has been about the impending summer and how many wildfires it could bring. As of today, March 4, 2024, the 'snow water equivalent' or what most people might call snowpack is at 65% for the Upper Clark Fork  Basin, according to the USDA.

Montana SNOTEL March 4 2024
USDA/NRCS National Water and Climate Center, Portland, Oregon

When you live in Montana, there aren't many natural disasters we have to worry about. Hurricanes don't apply, and tornadoes are rare (though not unheard of). We do have earthquakes but for the most part, they don't register very high on the richer scale. The exception of course, is activity related to the Yellowstone Caldera.

READ MORE: Don't Be Here During a Powerful Earthquake in Montana 

As far as natural disasters go, wildfires are one of the biggest concerns in Montana, and the concern may be greater than previously thought.

Montana Cities with Extreme Fire Risk

A new study from HouseFresh used data to determine which American cities had the greatest risk to real estate from wildfire damage in the next 30 years. Two Montana cities are at "extreme fire risk."

Unsurprisingly, Montana would end up on the list of cities with the highest fire danger. When I was a kid, there was a wildfire that almost burned down my house, and I lived in Missoula city limits. When Missoula showed up on this list, I also wasn't surprised, but Missoula was in the top 10 and that's kind of scary. Helena is also on this list, but Helena appears at #4. 

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The study used a ranking system to determine the percentage of homes at risk of burning in a wildfire. Helena showed that 18% of listings were at risk, while Missoula only had 5% of listings at risk. Still, any amount of risk is unsettling. 

Montana's neighbor, Wyoming, had the highest risk with Cheynne having 62% of listings having an "extreme fire risk."

This is probably a good time to mention that the Bitterroot National Forest is hiring wildland firefighters. If you're at all interested, I'm sure they could use the help.

Looking Back at One of Montana's Most Explosive Fires

The 2013 Lolo Creek Fire burned within 6 miles of Missoula

Gallery Credit: Dennis Bragg

Photos: 2021 Crooked Creek Fire in Pryor Mountains, Montana

"Wildland fire on public lands managed by the Custer Gallatin National Forest, 25 miles east of Bridger, Mont., in the Pryor Mountains near the southern border of the Crow Indian Reservation." (Photos by Colby K. Neal/BLM) - Bureau of Land Management Montana and Dakotas

PHOTOS: 2021 Robertson Draw Fire Near Red Lodge, Montana