Mad start to the month of March

Average daily temp of 2 below
Marlo Pronovost
Thursday, March 7, 2019

While March has already brought 6.1 inches of snow with it, it has been the brutally cold temperatures — made even harsher with wind chill — that has been at the forefront of the weather scene.

Last Friday, March 1, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a Wind Chill Advisory calling for wind chill temperatures as low as 45 degrees below zero being brought in by an Arctic cold front.

And the mercury fell fast and stayed brutally low.

In Columbus, through the first five days of March, every single day has seen lows below 0. The breakdown is as follows:

•March 1: 3 below zero

•March 2: 5 below zero

•March 3: 23 below zero

•March 4: 27 below zero

•March 5: 22 below zero

During that time span, the average daily high in Columbus was 14.8 degrees, the daily low was 19.8 degrees below and the daily average was 2.5 below zero.

Rapelje has had similar weather, with five days of sub-zero lows and two days where the highs failed to rise about 2 below.

The lows have been 5 below, 11 below, 24 below for two consecutive days and 17 below, respectively, according to the NWS.

Rapelje’s daily high is running 8.4 degrees, the daily average low is 16.2 below zero and the average daily temperature is 3.9 below.

With wind chill, those temperatures have felt as cold as 40 below and made for dangerous conditions. Columbus and Park City school districts pushed the start of classes back by two hours Monday due to potentially record low temperatures.


Last Tuesday, with two days left in February, snowfall totals in Columbus ranked the month as the fifth snowiest on record.

One more powerful storm pushed that ranking to No. 2, as Columbus recorded 29.5 inches of snowfall at month’s end.

That total was big enough to make it the third snowiest month ever on record, said National Weather Service Meteorologist Tom Frieders. The top three snowiest months were as follows:

•February 2014: 33.6 inches

•April 1955: 32.5 inches

•February 2019: 29.5 inches

Year-to-date snowfall in Columbus is 64.5 inches. That compares to the normal amount of 30.1 inches and 89.9 inches last year at this point.

Last week’s late storm pushed snowfall totals around the county to impressive numbers. From Feb. 24 through March 1, the NWS reported the following:

•18.1 miles southwest of Fishtail: 60.5 inches (through 4 p.m. Friday, March 1)

•Fishtail Post Office: 29 inches (through 8 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 28)

•Rapelje: 26.5 inches (through 8 a.m. Friday, March 1)

•Reed Point: 21 inches (through 9 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26)

•Park City: 15.3 inches (through 7 a.m. Friday, March 1)

February was also the second coldest on record, with an average daily reading of only 9.8 degrees in Columbus, said Frieders. The coldest February on record came in 1936 when the average daily temperature was 1.8 degrees.

The daily high in Columbus for the month was 22.1 degrees — almost 22 degrees below normal. The average daily low of 2 below zero was 17 degrees colder than normal.


While early in the week the NWS had believed most of the serious weather was behind us, the agency issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook Wednesday morning for south central and south east Montana, as well as Wyoming, as accumulating snowfall was expected from Friday into Saturday.

NWS said Wednesday it is uncertain how much snow it could bring, but was forecasting the 4 to 6-inch range. The coming snow is also expected to be wetter than previous storms, and that travel could be difficult. There was also a potential threat to young livestock.

Friday’s high should reach 34 degrees, with a 60 percent chance of snow, and a low of 17 degrees. Saturday’s high is also expected to hit 34 degrees, with just a 30 percent chance of snow and a low of 9 degrees.

Sunday’s high is also 34 degrees, with mostly sunny skies.