February storms help mountain snowpack

Thursday, March 3, 2022
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Thanks in large part to the 7.9 inches of snow that fell in Columbus last week, February finished the month with above normal snowfall.

The National Weather Service (NWS) officially reported 14.1 inches of snow last month in Columbus. Normal February snowfall is 8.8 inches.

With the snow also came lower than normal temperatures. The daily average temperature in Columbus was 23.9 degrees, compared to the normal daily average of 26.7 degrees.

Subzero temps were present on eight days, with six of those in the double-digits.

The coldest reading was 29 below zero on Feb. 23. On that day, the high was 3 below zero.

Mystic Lake also saw above normal snowfall in February, coming in at 44 inches. Normal snowfall is 25.3 inches. The daily average temperature of 20 degrees was 5.6 degrees colder than normal. Seven days saw subzero temperatures, five of which were double-digit numbers. The coldest reading was 38 below zero on Feb. 23, according the NWS.

There was no information available for Rapelje or any other town in Stillwater County.

January’s snowfall was about 3 inches under normal, coming in at 4.1 inches.

And December brought more than three times the normal amount of snow at 28.3 inches. .


As of March 2, snowpack in the Upper Yellowstone River Basin was 81 percent of normal, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Snowpack elsewhere is as follows:

•Flathead River Basin: 104 percent of normal

•Upper Clark Fork River Basin: 92 percent of normal

•Lower Clark Fork River Basin: 99 percent of normal

•Bitterroot River Basin: 96 percent of normal

•Jefferson River Basin: 85 percent of normal

•Madison River Basin: 83 percent of normal

•Gallatin River Basin: 77 percent of normal

•Smith/Judith/Musselshell River Basins: 81 percent of normal

•Missouri River Basin at Fort Peck: 84 percent of normal


After enjoying 50 and 60-degree weather this week, cooler temperatures and snow are expected to return Friday, with a mix of rain and snow Friday from Billings and west and an 80 percent chance of snow Friday night. Freezing rain is also possible.

That will be followed by a 70 percent chance of snow Saturday and a high of 30 degrees.