BOZEMAN – February was an extreme winter month for the entire state of Montana. Why? The combination of a persistent Northerly flow aloft allowed round after round of Arctic air to drop down into Montana and the end result was the state, in general, ended up in the top 5 coldest Februarys on average for most cities.
The other factor for harsh winter weather in February was an endless moisture stream with subtropical roots. An “atmospheric river” pumped a tremendous amount of moisture through the Pacific Northwest into the Northern Rockies. As this warm moist air rolled over the cold Arctic air this produced an over-running pattern which was incredible for producing snow.
Most reporting stations in Montana (not all) also had their top fiv5 snowiest Februarys on record. The totals varied from 6.5″ in Dillon to an impressive 33.2″ in Kalispell. In SW Montana, Bozeman MSU and Belgrade had their snowiest February on record with just under 30″ of total snow. West Yellowstone reported up to 55.1″ of total snow and that ranked as the 3rd highest.
Butte had an average temperature of around 10 degrees which put you in the top 5 coldest Februarys on record at #4.
Butte snow data in no longer collected and it’s been this way ever since the FAA closed the airport control tower down some 15 years ago. It’s totally unacceptable that weather data out of Butte is subpar and why NOAA and BSB Government can’t find a solution is truly disappointing.
Dillon airport data for February was impressive for cold but not so much for total snow. The average temperature for Dillon just under 10 degrees and this is the coldest February on record. Snow accumulations only came in around 6½ inches and this did not shatter any records.
Bozeman MSU and Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (Belgrade) data were very impressive for February.
Bozeman MSU February will be remembered as one of the coldest and snowiest for most folks but the data shows the month came in as the 4th coldest on record with almost 12 degrees. Snow totals, on the other hand, were incredible with almost 30 inches of snow and this ranked as the snowiest February on record.
Belgrade, oh sorry, Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport was just as impressive as Bozeman MSU. The average temperature for Belgrade was 9.2 degrees and that ranks as the 3rd coldest February on record. Total snow ranked as the snowiest February on record with a hair over 27 inches.
West Yellowstone you were the outlier in SW Montana. It was very interesting watching your temperature trends stay well above the rest of the region as Arctic air could not find a path through the mountains to this city. Day after day West Yellowstone was usually the warmest city in the entire state of Montana during the month of February.
So temperature trends for West Yellowstone did not shatter any records, however, it was an incredible month for snow. Total snow accumulations of 55.1″ for West Yellowstone ranked as the third snowiest February on record.