As we close in on the record for the snowiest winter in recorded history here in Billings, it is natural to start coming down with a case of the winter blues. I certainly know the mood here in the Q2 weather center is one of frustration at our lack of changing seasons. Nobody wants to be the guy forecasting heavy snow in April. Another thought that goes along with a bit of winter fueled self pity, is the notion that we might be the only ones who are dealing with an overdose of flurries. But what do the numbers tell us about the state of the winter season across Montana?
I dug back into the National Weather Service climatological records to see just how this winter is treating residents of other places in Montana. I compared this year’s snowfall totals to historical maximums to see if we are the only ones about to break any records.
I will start with a quick recap of where we stand in Billings as of the most recent measurable snowfall. We are currently 0.4” away from the all time record of 103.5”. For those of you who do not feel like doing the quick math, that leaves our current total at 103.1”. With an impending storm heading our way, we are likely to find ourselves in the midst of the snowiest winter in Billings’ history.
Expanding our focus to include other portions of the state we see that some areas are having similarly snowy winters, but also some places where the snowfall totals are decidedly average.
Starting with the record breakers, we have Forsyth and Columbus. Both of these two centers have already eclipsed their all time records for snowfall. Forsyth has seen 89.2” of snow. Columbus has seen 109.3”.
Now on to those in the same boat as Billings. Havre is the best example of another center that is very close to setting a record. They currently have 92.5” of snow, less than one inch off of the all time record of 93.3” set back in 1982. The incoming storm is set to track mostly to the south of those up in Havre, but it is still possible that they see some active weather out of the system. Whether it is a record breaking snowfall or not remains to be seen.
With all this being said, there are plenty of places that are well shy of having a record breaking winter. The readings from MSUB in Bozeman show their total snowfall of 131.2” is still more than a foot less than the record of 158.5” (1997). In Great Falls the observed snowfall of 95.2” is still well short of the all time record of 117.5” set back in 1989.
Moving to the Northeast, where they have seen consistently cold temperatures this spring, we can see that snow has not necessarily accompanied the wintry temperatures. Glasgow has 62.7” of snow and the record is 108.6”, set in 2011.
The capital is in a very similar position, having seen 63.4” this winter while having a record of 112.8” set all the way back in 1881!
A quick glance at some of the numbers that define this winter season and we can see that not everyone in the state of Montana has had to deal with more snow than they are used to. However there are certainly other places that are just as sick of the white stuff as we are here in Billings. So whatever your feelings on the current season, know that you are not alone. Here in Billings we can brace for the incoming weather on Thursday and Friday and look forward to warmer temperatures again on the weekend. At that point it is very likely that we will all be able to join together and say that we have survived the snowiest winter in Billings history. For more on the incoming storm check in with Bob McGuire on the news tonight or check out the Q2 weather app.
Note: There are some dead spaces within the NWS data base where snowfall totals were not measured or are missing. One notable exclusion is Miles City, which has certainly had a snowy winter, where snowfall measurements are no longer taken or logged into the NWS database.