Montana Public Radio

snow

Snow-Water Equivalent - Percentage of 1981-2010 Normal, March 1, 2020.
USDA NRCS

February delivered another round of normal to record-setting snowfall in mountain ranges supplying water to Montana’s rivers and streams.

The federal government’s latest water supply outlook report says last month’s timely snowpack improves the spring and summer streamflow forecasts.

Snow-Making 101

Mar 1, 2020
Flickr user, Dawn Perry (CC-BY-NC-2.0)

Few things brighten a typical Montana winter day like a little snowfall. Right when you feel that you can't take another grey day, a couple of inches of heaven fall to raise your spirits. But just how do these floating flakes come to be? Snow obviously comes from clouds, but not just any cloud.

Weather story for Feb. 4, 2020.
National Weather Service Missoula

Western Montana’s winter is a paradox this year. On the one hand it’s been a season of near-record warmth. On the other, mountain snowpack currently ranges from normal to slightly above normal.

Winter, meanwhile, is about to throw another twist our way.

Kristamonique (Pixabay)

Walking in a heavy snowstorm at night is one of my favorite ways to experience winter. There is something quite magical about being wrapped in the hug of falling snow. Snowflakes land delicately and melt on the tip of my nose. The trees are covered in a lacy latticework of icy crystals. The world slows down for a while and becomes quiet, save for the scrape of shovels on driveways and sidewalks, or the thwop of snow as it slides en masse from roof to yard.

Beneath The Snow, The Subnivean Zone Bustles

Jan 12, 2020
Diane Renkin, Yellowstone National Park (PD)

Many animals are able to survive the freezing cold temperatures of a Montana winter by making use of that place between the snow and the ground called the subnivean layer. This layer is created because snow is such a good insulator, holding in warm air heated by the earth, and keeping out cold air.

A prolonged period of strong winds will affect western Montana, and to a lesser extent north central Idaho, beginning late Tuesday night and lasting through Wednesday.
National Weather Service Missoula

Winter weather is rolling into Montana this evening. Montana is sitting smack dab in-between two developing weather systems. How it will affect you depends on where you are and where you’re traveling this holiday week.

Near Browning, MT as seen from a Montana Department of Transportation camera on the morning of Sept. 28.
Montana Department of Transportation

The Blackfeet Tribe and Montanans east of the Rocky Mountain Front are just beginning to dig out of a record-breaking early-season snowstorm. It'll take a few days for the snow to melt and things to return to normal. By Saturday morning, 20 inches of snow had already fallen on the Blackfeet Nation.

Wintry Blast Closes Schools, Plunges Temperatures In Rockies
National Weather Service Great Falls, MT

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Some schools in Montana took their earliest snow day in memory Monday after a blizzard dumped several feet of snow, while plunging temperatures threatened crops across other parts of the Rocky Mountains in an unusually early blast of wintry weather.

Montana is under emergency conditions after an intense winter storm dumped record amounts of snow along with a life-threatening combination of bitter cold and stiff winds. In the town of Browning, 48 inches of snow fell from Friday to Sunday, the National Weather Service says.

Despite coming in late September, the 19.3 inches of snow that just fell over two days in Great Falls is second to only one other two-day total in the city — in any month. The only time the city recorded more snow in two days was during a winter storm more than 10 years ago.

National Air Pollutant Concentration Averages, 1990-2018.
U.S. EPA Air Quality System

Snow samples from three national parks in the Rocky Mountains reflect improved air quality in the region since the mid-1990s. That’s according to a recent publication from the National Park Service.

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