El Nino Brings Missoula Second Warmest February on Record
An El Nino weather system led to an extremely warm winter with very few days with below zero temperatures in Western Montana says NOAA Senior Forecaster Bob Nester. This February was so warm, that it nearly broke an all-time record.
"In Missoula, it was the second warmest February on record," Nestor said. "The average temperature was 5.2 degrees above normal. The only other year that was warmer than that was February of 1992, which happened to be an El Nino year also. It was also dry, the last measurable snow we had was on February 4, and that was only a tenth of an inch."
Western Montana entered winter in a state of extreme drought, and, emerged only slightly better off.
"The precipitation has helped this winter, when we look at drought, we look at the long term average," Nestor said. "Things have improved, but only by one category. We are actually still in severe drought in northwest Montana, from about Missoula northward along the continental divide. In the remainder of the region, we are in a moderate drought conditions."
In higher elevations, the snow pack condition is actually pretty good, around 90 percent of normal, lower elevations are a little worse off, but still around 80 percent of normal.