Southwest Montana cooler and wetter than average so far this year

Posted at 6:34 PM, Jun 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-21 20:34:01-04

2018 has featured wetter and cooler than average weather for southwest Montana. So far this year, Bozeman ranks fifth for the wettest year on record, while in Butte it’s the 15th wettest year to date.

Since January 1, precipitation in Bozeman is about 3.5 inches above average and Butte is 2.5 inches above normal. A high mountain snowpack and wet spring are to blame.

“The first six months of this year, we had a normal winter, lots of high mountain snowpack and cold,” said Chief Meteorologist Mike Heard. “That was a nice treat, we don’t usually get those. And then on top of that, a normal cool and wet spring. So that’s been fantastic as well.”

Temperatures for the first six months of the year have been within a degree of normal which melted the snowpack at a regular pace, limiting flooding around southwest Montana.

“I didn’t see any major flooding issues here in southwest Montana compared to the rest of the state, so that snowpack came out somewhat aggressively but gradually came out behind that,” Mike said.

Mike says lots of vegetation from all the wet weather could provide fuel for an active fire season.

“The grasses are tall that could quickly dry out, and there you go, there’s the fuel here in southwest Montana,” he said.

According to Mike, just because the first six months of 2018 were so wet doesn’t necessarily mean the next six months will follow suit.

“Last year was such a surprise with the flash drought and how quickly it warmed up and dried out, and the fire season was right there in just a short amount of time after we had our spring rains,” he explained. “This year, we’re waiting to see if that happens again but so far it hasn’t been verified because we’re continuing to look at nothing but storm after storm, after storm.”

Mike says there’s even more rain on the way.

Bozeman Butte
Year-to-date Total (inches) 14.52 9.32
Normal (inches) 10.87 6.64
Departure (inches) 3.65 2.68
Avg Temperature (degrees) 38.7 34.9
Normal Avg Temperature (degrees) 39.4 34.8