HELENA — Record-breaking winter weather has frozen and buried much of the West over the last several weeks after a late start.
It was not long ago when December wildfires were consuming homes here in Montana, but that wind and warmth has been replaced by plunging temperatures and a blanket of snow.
A much anticipated La Nina winter weather pattern has settled in delivering the recent harsh conditions. Snowpack here in Montana has had a significant increase over the last several weeks. Considering where the state was a month ago, these numbers are a positive sign.
More snow this week will continue to bring some areas closer to normal, with other areas staying above normal.
West-wide, the snowpack continues to be very healthy. The Central Rockies and the Sierra Nevada in California lead the way with snowpack between 100 to over 200% of normal. This is somewhat unusual for a La Nina pattern that favors the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies with more snow.
Last's winter's bleak snowpack for much of the west contributed to another severe wildfire fire season. Conditions are looking much better this year, and for the Sierra Nevada, it's never been better.
December was the snowiest on record and one of the snowiest periods ever for the Sierra Nevada with nearly 20 feet falling.