Montana is known for its epic snowstorms and long, cold winters. On any given year, you can expect temperatures well below freezing, heavy amounts of snowfall, freezing fog, and bitterly cold winds. As early as October or November, Montana snowstorms start to turn particularly bad. The winter season is not for the light of heart, and some years are worse than others.
Typically, snowfall first begins in Montana in the fall, and it can continue as late as April. Depending on the year, the snow can also be slow to melt, with patches still visible into late spring and early summer months.
When you combine the difficult weather with challenging mountainous terrain and shorter daylight hours, it’s no wonder Montanans are hearty folks. It takes a fair amount of grit and resolve to live in such a harsh climate, and this state is no exception.
The Worst November Storm
On Saturday, November 7, 2020, a blizzard hit the state and set daily snowfall records in north-central Montana. The daily wind average record was also broken, as Arctic air funneled through the Intermountain West and blanketed at least four states with snow. The blizzard caused outages and sketchy road conditions all over the affected region, and temperatures plummeted into the teens.
Highest November Snow Totals
The most snow to fall in November occurred in 1978. That winter was particularly bad, with brutally low temperatures and record snowfall. During that November alone, Billings received over 25 inches of snow — a record that still stands today.
Later on that same winter, a historic blizzard swept through eastern Montana during February. Old newspaper clippings documented the aftermath, which included weeks of snow removal. While the state of Montana has continued to experience severe winters, few have come close to what happened in 1978.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © kayjj/ via Getty Images
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