First Snow in Montana: The Earliest & Latest First Snows on Record

Written by Megan Martin
Published: October 28, 2022
© Galyna Andrushko/Shutterstock.com
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When it comes to the first now in Montana, there is a lot to learn. Home of the Northern Rocky Mountains and several different national parks, Montana is considered, unofficially, as the “The Last Best Place”. It also just so happens to be one of the snowiest and coldest states in the entirety of the continental United States.

If there’s one thing that Montana knows better than the beauty of the outdoors, it’s snow. From the earliest first snow to the average snowfall, we’ve compiled this complete guide to introduce you to everything you need to know about the winter wonderland that is this state’s climate.

Ready to learn more about the first snow in Montana, as well as other local climate facts? Let’s dive in!

About Montana

Montana is a state in the northwestern region of the United States. It is a mountainous state, with one of its several unofficial nicknames being “Land of the Shining Mountains”.

This state is considered one of the main areas for ecotourism in the United States. It is most known for its national park, Glacier National Park. However, it also contains entries into additional parks, including three different entries into one of the most iconic national parks in the United States: Yellowstone National Park.

Known as an ecotourism hotspot, Montana’s unofficial name is “Land of the Shining Mountains.”

©Scott Wilson Photography/Shutterstock.com

The Typical Climate of Montana

When considering the typical climate of Montana, it’s important to realize just how diverse this state is. With half of the state consisting of badlands and plains and the other half of mountains, climate can vary depending on the exact location in Montana that you’re looking into.

However, overall, Montana can be considered of mild climate. Daytime temperatures (in Fahrenheit) range from 28 to 85, although they have been recorded well into the triple digits. In mountainous areas, winters can be harsh. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Montana also happens to be the coldest temperature recorded in all of the continental United States.

Earliest First Snow Ever in Montana

Although it may seem strange, thanks to its high altitudes, it can snow in Montana almost all year. While it certainly is rare, Cooke City, a small city nestled in the mountains of Montana, has had snowfall in June.

Snowfall in July or August is rare, especially towards the eastern side of the state where the terrain in lower. As a result, it’s most common to find snow sometime in September, usually before the first official day of fall. 

In many eastern areas, snow may be delayed by the last of summer and fall’s rain. However, you can still expect measurable snowfall before winter begins in full swing in many of the cities here. 

Latest First Snow Ever in Montana 

It’s very rare to see fall come and go without any measurable snowfall in Montana. In fact, it’s rare to see fall come at all without the accompaniment of at least a few inches of snow in the majority of the state. As a result, the last first snow usually falls at the end of September. 

snow in montana
It’s very rare to see fall come and go without any measurable snowfall in Montana.

©Corrado Baratta/Shutterstock.com

How Much Snow Does Montana Receive on Average?

Because Montana is so vastly diverse, getting a single average can be difficult. As a result, it’s best to divide the state into a western portion (mountainous terrain) and an eastern portion (badlands and plains).

It is the center and western portions of Montana that get the most snow on average. This region of the state is located in Northern Rocky Mountains, which feature higher elevations, colder temperatures, and, as a result, increased snowfall. Here, you can find many popular snow-sport centers, such as ski resorts and more. The average snowfall in the height of the mountains can reach heights of nearly 300 inches. In the cities, this number is reduced drastically to around 50 inches per year, although this is still an impressive number. 

In the eastern portions of the state, snow is not as common. While it’s expected to see a few snow flurries here and there throughout the colder months of the year, the eastern portion aligns with many other northern states in that it receives around 20 inches of snow in the year.

However, if you were to find an overall average for the state, it would be around 49 inches. This is more than the national average, which combines the average annual snowfall for all states and territories in the United States. However, there are still other states, such as Alaska, that get more snow than Montana!

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Snow in Montana
© Galyna Andrushko/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I'm a writer with almost five years of experience. I recently graduated from Wingate University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a double minor in biology and professional and technical writing. I love everything animals and nature related! The American kestrel is my favorite animal, but I also like sharks and alligators. In my free time, I like to watch documentaries and explore nature.

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  2. , Available here: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00040851.1979.12004114