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Image provided by: Montana Historical Society; Helena, MT
Newspaper Page Text
December, 1957, Is Going Into History
As One of Montana's Warmest, SO—? By R. A. DIGHTMAN, State Climatologist DECEMBER, 1957, IS going into history as one of Montana's warmest, particularly along the "High Line east of Glacier National Park. Although it is evident that all sta tions were warmer than normal, the greatest departures occurred from Cut Bank eastward to the Dakota border. The accompanying tally lists a few values to emphasize December's un usual, and is some cases record-break ing, warmth. Aside from the unusual warmth, per haps the most important feature was the persistent strength of the westerly winds along the east slopes of the Continental Divide and such eastward extensions as the Big Belt, Crazy, Absaroka and other ranges. At Great Falls, for instance, the average Decem ber wind speed was 22.9 m.p.h.! Too, such a warm winter month usually is dry, and December was no exception east of the Divide where many stations had no snowfall at all. On western slopes, however, snowfall was substantial. Christmas was white over and west of the Continental Divide and in most of the higher valleys be tween the Divide proper and the Big Belt and Crazy mountains—something less than half the state. • > What Next? A month that is so abnormal in one or more features always seems to give rise to speculation about the seasons or months to follow. Many studies have been made of such things, and the conclusion reached by almost all climatologists has been that there can be little if any relationship between west storm activity. Storm causes are on the decline for -these inland states, permitting much sunny weather. Wyoming should fare better for moisture than Montana at this time. About three short cold spells are likely during this forecast period but they will be mostly moderate. With less than the usual of intense cold the numerous days of mild to moderate weather should more than offset the cold days. The area immediately east of the continental divide will prob ably have the greatest temperature departures above normal. Some chi nook winds can be expected during the last half of February this year. These miniature weather maps are designed to give you a quick, easy to-read forecast of approximately when certain kinds of weather may occur, but the actual occurrence may be occasionally as much as two or three days early or late. With these variations, the map forecasts should prove correct at least three times out of four. MON FEB 3 1 Mm ft k •4 A February 1 to 18 By OSCAR L. MOLDENHAUER AN AVERAGE OF noticeably milder and drier weather than usual is indicated for this forecast region and especially in Montana. We expect - the main storms to develop well to the east, thereby leaving this area before reaching the capabilities of releasing heavy precipitation over the farming regions. In the coming months much storm activity will also originate around the Gulf states and then move northeastward. Such storms will pass too far to the southeast to benefit Montana and will tend to distract from north SUN FEB 2 SAT FEB 1 TUE FEB 4 Cq <0 COLD WARMER :OLDER % :ÇLDER COLD RMER v V SAT FEB 0 FR( FEB 7 THU FEB 6 WED FEB 5 FEBRUARY PRECIPITATION - TEMPERATURE MAP *.3 * „ "• h V CJ .> derate 1 i North Central N. P. 1.31^ EP 2 ii 3 e * N. A. T. N. A. T. 25 ,o Ji - A T. 20° A. T. 24° lk' s \-4 - x "" 7 MONTANA Northeastern Western Division !* N. P. 0.45 iV ) ? WED FEB 12 0.34 0.30 } N. A. T. 14.5° J E. A. T. 16° N. P. % 0.35. 18.4 \ MILD \ MOD. Vmild .> . E, P. E. P. V) . r ,m ' TUE FEB 11 SUN FEB 9 MON FEB 10 V._ Central COLÇÉR; . : t'+ S'. c COLD WAVE WARMER N. P. COLD 0.49 S 0-35 V"~ N. A. T. 23.3° \ __ I . E _. A -- T 25 y-r ^ T ' '"TSoutK Central ^ '' 'Southwestern | N. P. 0.52 U N.P. 0.72 J E. P. 0.40 V E.p. 0.60 r* N. A. T. 24.7° f N.A.T. 21.8° E. A. T. 26° CE. AT. 20° E. P. Southeastern 0.42 0.35 o N. A. T. 20.4 E. A. T. 22 +ÖLD j tyAVE FRl FEB 14 ft r&Sct \pOLD « N. P. \ RMER THU FEB 13 I E. P. * SAT FEB IS SUN FEB 16 T" v % MILD OLD^X* COLD v Missouri Vv WYOMING dû 1 A CON 1 -*r T-! 4 vr V< t ' Yellowstone Drainage Basin \P . V West of 7 * Divide 'P \ SF» M\L\' /"""Drainage N>. 0.47 E. P. 0.45 <^I.A.T. 23.5 _ M. A.T. 25° :cold •• LEGEND N. P.—Normal precipitation. E. P.—Expected precipitation. N. A. T.—Normal average temperature. E. A. T.—Expected average temperature. c> N. P. 0.52 0-40 N. A. T. 22.7 E. A. T. 24° E. P LEGEND MON FEB 17 TUE FEB 18 V H Show««; »caftared er |p|| M.jor (term; SPiM heavy precipitation. P.' l »potty precipitation. COLD t \'^rA Snow»form; moderate to heavy »nowfall. Snow «Kower», or light tain and snow. Dry woathoa indicated. Storm, general précipitation, light to moderato precipitation. _ Subtlanlial »Ko war activity; widespread. t 0 . 6 T 0.50 • N. A. T, 24.5 J*, Oroinoge E. A. T. 26° w N.P. 1.43\»t E. P. 1.25 N.A.T. 18.2 0, -.r_ E. A.T. 17° N. P. o: s.*. EO jf % V E. P. Platte XCOLD □ s Very little weather occurs which is not a mixture of blessings and difficulties. We seem to enjoy the first and make the best of the other. We will do the same this season, I'm sure, but we cannot base an outlook for 1958 on the mild winter we have had so far. R. A. Dightman a warm period, such as December and so far in January this season, and the next summer's precipitation. Too many variables are involved, and the weather seldom repeats itself for such extended periods as six or nine months. One comment - made so far this season was to the effect that the winter of 1918-19 was very warm and the summer of 1919 was ex tremely dry, so we should expect a dry 1958 summer. But that com ment overlooks the fact that the winter of 1952-53 was also very warm, and the following season was wet enough to produce serious floods in a large area surrounding Great Falls. It should be noted, per haps, that no station listed had its warmest December in 1918. Warmest previous December and year 1939 1939 1954 1900 1885 Departure from 30-year normal - f - 10.1 +7.0 +13.5 + 10.1 +13.5 +9.9 +6.4 +8.4 +3.0 December 1957 Average Temp. ..... 37.3 Station Billings .. Butte . Glasgow .. Great Falls . 37.6 32.1 25.5 Kalispell . *Warmest December on record (Glasgow WBAS, new location, averaged 28.1). .... 29.8* .... 36.6 .... 33.9* .... 32.6 .... 31.1 .... 32.0 28.7 37.0 32.4 Havre . Helena 1925 34.2 1925 33.4 1939 Missoula .... Wisdom . 33.6 1933 28.0 20.0 No Generalizations Fit Generalizations for a large area— and Montana's 146,000-plus square miles are a large area—are almost impos sible,. too. While most of Montana in 1953 had a very wet season, there were dry spots from Billings west to the Missouri Headwaters area. In 1919 there were a few wet spots, too. Wisdom's December average of 20 degrees, only 3 degrees above, the mean, is another case in point, showing that the state is just too large for it all to fit into one generalized pattern. At Great Falls the warm 1954-55 winter was followed by a wet season (in addition to. the '52-53 setup). Our conclusion still is, on the basis of the evidence available and on our lack of success in finding anything close to a significant correlation, that our growing sea son 1958 precipitation will depend entirely upon the weather patterns as they unfold during the spring and summer months, and not at all upon the very mild weather we have had generally since late in November 1957. A few salient considerations, how ever, would seem to be: 1. The areas shortest of moisture in 1957 were along the High Line and West of the Divide (with a few important exceptions). Here the need for adequate precipitation during 1958 probably will be more critical than in a normal year, at least partly because of winter moisture losses caused by the continued windy and warm weather. 2. Elsewhere moisture during 1957 was adequate to plentiful, and subsoil moisture should be in fair to good shape at the start of the growing season in April, in spite of topsoil drying in some areas the last 6 to 7 weeks. 3. Mountain snowpacks were near normal at the start of the year; in fact, some snow courses showed more than usual water content. And October precipitation was heavy in most sections, some of which mois ture no doubt is still in the soil. 4. Winter wheat has lacked adequate snow cover in the principal producing areas for that crop for several weeks (since early in December), and at least some has suffered from the wind, warmth, and dryness of De cember and the first half of January. 5. Livestock have required far less than usual care and feeding to Jan. 15, and are in good shape. Feed supplies that looked only adequate a month or so ago are now plentiful.