Winter weather summary for the Northern Rockies

NOAA has produced a summary of the winter weather in the Northern Rockies. Here are some excerpts:


Northern Rockies Winter Review – 2010-2011

The winter of 2010-2011 was a wet one, a winter typical of the La Nina pattern we were under. The past winter weather patterns were driven largely by La Nina. La Nina is a phenomenon where the waters of the equatorial pacific cool to below normal. This past winter the water temperature departures were exceptionally large, nearly 2 degrees Celsius below normal. Strong La Nina’s which 2010-11 was occurring infrequently. The last time a La Nina of this magnitude was experienced was in the winters of 1988-89, 1973-74 and 1955-56.

The majority of the Western Montana and North Central Idaho experienced above normal precipitation and well above normal snowfall. Mountain Snowpack’s across the Western Montana and North Central Idaho were and continue to be very high. The one exception to the wet winter was southwest Montana where below normal precipitation and snowfall occurred.

A couple of notable precipitation amounts were in Missoula and Polson. Missoula received 64 inches of snow from Oct 1- March 31st. This is the 8th snowiest winter since 1893 and the 3 rd snowiest winter in 40 years. The first was 1996-97 and second 1971-72. The 1996-97 winters was by far the snowiest and wettest winter in the northern Rockies on record and will be hard to surpass.

Polson received 2-3 feet of snow in one storm in late December. Their snowfall totals for the season was 74.5 inches, the third snowiest on record (back to 1912). The top 2 snowiest winters were 1996-97 and 1971-72.

Snowfall percent of normal

Precipitation percent of normal



Thanks Dick

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.