Montana Cold through Glacier Webcams

Glacier SP12-445

The above picture was taken late in May, in 2012, early in the morning. The temperature was probably in the 40s, with mild wind. If I were there right now, or recent days, the winds would be lighter (which is unusual for this time of the year), but the mountains would be covered with snow, the lake would be frozen over, and the temperatures would be around -20º. Montana was attacked by a vicious blast of cold air the last few days. Images from the Glacier webcams tell the story.

Consider this image taken a couple days ago from the St. Mary Visitor Center on the east side of Glacier National Park:

osprey

The temperature when these crows were photographed was about -5º. How they survived in that cold is anyone’s guess.

Consider the following snap, also from a St. Mary webcam:

smcam

Look carefully at the recorded temperature:

temp

Now obviously this recorded temperature of -75º was a bit of an exaggeration. It wasn’t quite that cold. According weather.gov, the temperature when this webcam photo was taken at around 11 am, on Thursday, February 6, 2014, was a balmy -17º. The low in nearby Great Falls (about an two and half hour drive in good weather) early that morning had been -34º. Concurrently, the Great Falls temperature was -21º, which means it was warmer in St. Mary, at more than 1,500 feet higher elevation, than at Great Falls. Other concurrent temperatures, as recording by various stations reporting to weather.gov, are as follows:

Kalispel, MT: -17º
Butte, MT: -25º
Helena, MT: -20º
Billings, MT: -19º
West Yellowstone, MT: -20º
Gardiner, MT: -18º

Temperatures were not quite as frigid outside Montana, particularly in most of the west. It was in the 50s, for example, here on the California northcoast (cloudy and rainy, however). It was 28º in Salt Lake City. The coldest temperature I could find outside Montana in the west was Idaho Falls, at -11º. Nearby Pocatello, ID, however, was a balmy 3º (go figure!). Other non-Montana temps:

Jackson, WY: -4º
Caspar, WY: -12º
Cody, WY: -11º
Gillette, WY: -9º
Fort Collins, CO: 0º
Denver, CO: -2º

The one lesson that can be drawn from this? Simple: temperatures can get real cold east of the Continental Divide and in Montana and parts of Idaho.

One thing else to note. This webcam image of Lake McDonald, on the western side of Glacier National Park, testifies to the cold:

mcdcam

Lake McDonald, the largest lake in Glacier National Park, does not normally freeze over, like it has here. It wasn’t frozen over, for example, earlier in the week.