How Likely Are Missoula Snow Storms in March?
Mother Nature, if you're playing an early "April Fool's" joke, I don't think anyone in Montana thinks it's funny.
Just about the entire state of Montana got an early spring winter storm this weekend. There were reports from the Bozeman Fire Department of vehicles stuck and blocking streets. Over the weekend, they responded to multiple crashes.
Billings, Montana and surrounding areas also received a fair amount of snow over the weekend, with the Billings Gazette reporting that Red Lodge Mountain had "43 inches of new snow."
Missoula got a blanket of snow yesterday, but certainly not as much as southeastern Montana.
Usually, we would call this "Second Winter" but this year, I think we'll have to say we're now approaching "Third Winter."
"Second (or Third) Winter"
"Second Winter" happens after the holidays, and after the temperature has gone back up to at least 40 degrees for as long as a week. Montanans get lulled into a false sense of springtime, only to experience snow and cold, sometimes as late as June, but very often in March. This year, the yoyo cycle has happened more than once.
While national home improvements stores are pulling out gardening gear, and department stores are folding up their sweaters in exchange for t-shirts and sundresses (which doesn't help with the whole "Wear layers" thing), Missoulians are still heading to the slopes or drinking hot tea while curled up with a good book.
Snow, in March?
So, how likely is it that Missoula will be blanketed in snow in March? If you look at the highest daily snowfall records for Missoula by year, for 95 years, a day in March had the highest snowfall total about 9% of the time. Looking at historical data from the National Weather Service, since 1991 on average Missoula gets 5.0 inches of snow in March.
If you thought that it was time to pull out your warm-weather clothes, or put away the window scraper, think again.