Buried in white again
And you thought last winter was snowy and cold.
More than halfway through February, Columbus snowfall total sits at 28 inches. That pushes the year-to-date snowfall total to 77.5 inches, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). That is nearly three times the normal year-to-date amount.
Last year at this point, the year-to-date snowfall in Columbus was 58.2 inches.
Mystic Lake’s mid-February snow total sits at 48.5 inches, bringing the year-to-date total to 227.2 inches. That is approximately 2.5 times above the normal year-to-date amount.
Last year at this point, the year-to-date snowfall at Mystic Lake was 158 inches.
Rapleje’s 42.5 inches of snowfall so far this month nudges the year-to-date total in the north county up to 103 inches, which is more than three times the normal amount, according to the NWS.
Last year at this point, the year-to-date snowfall in Rapelje was 41.5 inches.
TWO LATEST STORMS
The system that moved through last Thursday, Feb. 15, blanketed Columbus with 11.5 inches of new snowfall, according the NWS. Columbus got the heaviest snow from 12 a.m. to 8:35 p.m. Thursday.
Rapelje got 10 inches while Absarokee and Fishtail ranged from 5.5 inches to 7.4 inches, according to the NWS.
The next system came through during the weekend. New snowfall totals from that system, beginning Friday, Feb. 16 and ending Tuesday, Feb. 20, included the following: 21 inches 18 miles southwest of Fishtail; 14.5 inches in Rapelje; 8 inches in Absarokee and Fishtail areas; 7 inches in Molt and between 3.8 and 4.9 inches in Reed Point, Columbus and Park City, according to the NWS.
BRUTAL COLD MORNINGS
Late Monday afternoon, the NWS issued a wind chill advisory warning regarding below zero temperatures expected to hit by Tuesday morning across the region, bringing wind chill readings of 31 below zero in Columbus, 30 below zero in Nye, 35 below zero in Red Lodge and 30 below zero in Billings.
The worst conditions were expected west of Yellowstone County, with the NWS cautioning that those temperatures were a threat to school children waiting for buses, as well as cold exposure to pets and livestock.
By early Tuesday morning, that advisory had been adjusted to include bitter cold winds from 20 below to 40 below. That remained in effect until noon Tuesday.
The forecast proved accurate. Columbus awoke Tuesday to reports of 31 degrees below zero and an official NWS reading of 27 below zero.
Wednesday brought more of the same, with 20-plus below readings.
Frostbite on exposed skin is possible in as little as 30 minutes. The NWS recommends covering all exposed skin if outside, and limiting exposure time.
Today, Feb. 22, is expected to break the area out of the extreme cold, with a forecast high of 24 degrees, although the low does dive once again to 5 below zero. Friday’s high is expected to reach 24 with a low of 5, followed by Saturday’s high of 31 and low of 10 degrees.
There is a 30 percent chance of snow Saturday and a 20 percent chance Sunday.
This winter’s snowfall is finding a place in history.
The is the second snowiest February on record — so far — for Columbus, at 28 inches.
The top spot goes to February 2014, with 33.6 inches, according to National Weather Service Meteorologist Tom Frieders.
The year-to-date total of 77.5 inches ranks as the third snowiest winter on record, with a few months left to go yet. The snowiest winter on record was 88.5 inches that fell in 2008-2009, followed by 86.4 inches in 2013-2014, said Frieders