2nd coldest, 5-inches shy of snowiest February on record with 2 days to go

Marlo Pronovost
Thursday, February 28, 2019

Photo by Bud Chenault

An ATV pulled-sled provided for some winter fun at the Beartooth Ranch last weekend.

Nailed it.

The National Weather Service, that is, in its prediction of a monster storm that brought piles of snowfall and wind chill that has pushed temperatures as much as 30 degrees below zero to Stillwater County for the past several days.

This has been the second coldest February on record so far, with a daily average temperature of 10.4 degrees, said National Weather Service Meteorologist Tom Frieders.

Monday’s high of 2 below zero in Columbus was the coldest high temperature on record.

“This week’s average temperatures are running in excess of 35 degrees below normal,” said Frieders.

As of Tuesday, it had also been the fifth snowiest February on record for Columbus, with yet another storm system approaching and that ranking expected to rise.


Columbus received 18.6 inches of snow between Feb. 24 and Feb. 27, said Frieders. Of that total, 9.8 inches fell Tuesday.

During that same 4-day span, Rapelje got 24 inches of snow, Reed Point received 21 inches, Nye logged in at 20.4 inches and Park City recorded approximately 11.5 inches.

And 18 miles southwest of Fishtail saw a staggering 43.5 inches of snowfall, according to the NWS.

And just like that, February’s 28.8 inches of snowfall in Columbus is more than four times above normal for the month. The year-to-date snowfall number is now 57.7 inches, which is nearly double the normal year-to-date snowfall at this point in the winter.

Mystic Lake got 27.5 inches on Monday alone, followed by an additional 11 inches on Tuesday, bringing the February total to 60.1 inches. The year-to-date snowfall total for Mystic Lake sits at 169.4 inches. Both are massively above the normal snowfall numbers for this time of the winter.

Rapelje got 8 inches of snow on Monday and then again on Tuesday, bumping the monthly total to 33.5 inches and the year-to-date total to 65.9 inches. Both are above the normal snowfall amounts of 6.7 inches in February and 35 inches year-to-date.


With the heavy snowfall came more subzero temperatures.

In Columbus, the high on Feb. 26 was 2 below zero and the low was 6 below zero. Through the first 26 days of the month, 16 had subzero temperature readings. The coldest include two days at 19 below, one day at 14 below and one day at 12 below, without wind chill.

At Mystic Lake, Feb. 25’s high was 7 below zero, and the low was 13 below zero. So far this month, 12 days have been below zero. The coldest days have included one day at 20 below, one day at 19 below and one day at 16 below.

The high and low temperatures in Rapelje Monday were 2 below and 9 below, respectively. Rapelje has also been one of the coldest spots in Stillwater County in February with 18 subzero days, including two days of 25 below, two days of 19 below and two days of 17 below. That was without wind chill.


Last Friday, Feb. 22, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) closed the Rosebud Isle fishing access site near Fishtail Friday after an ice jam and flooding created hazardous conditions.

It will likely remain closed “until we get some extended warmth,” FWP’s Bob Gibson told the News Monday.

West Rosebud Creek, which flows through the fishing access site, developed ice jams and ice scouring last week, channeling water through the entire site. The floodwaters froze, creating hazardous conditions.

Closure signs have been posted at the entrance to the site.


The snow and cold will continue with the arrival of a new system today, with another 3 to 6 inches of snow Thursday night. Temperatures this weekend will take a drastic plunge as wind chill could create conditions of 30 to 40 degrees below zero, said Frieders.