How Cold Does Montana Really Get?
This is my first winter in Montana. My family and I have gone through some pretty rough winters, but I hear that can get really rough here. While the National Weather Service has never officially ranked the worst winters on record, they did release an article in 1999 compiling the "Top 10 Montana Weather Events of the 20th Century".
In doing some research, I am thankful we weren't in Fairfield, Montana, on December 24, 1924. In 12 hours, the temperature fell from 63 degrees to -21. It remains the greatest 12 hour temperature change in United States history.
If you remember the winter of 1989, you'd probably like to forget the record cold front that rolled through Billings from January 30th through February 4th. Temperatures in some areas of the state dropped below -50. To make matters worse, high winds resulted in a wind chill of nearly 70 below. Billings set record lows for five consecutive days.
In the spring of 1969, a late season snowstorm devastated southeastern Montana. Snow drifts were over 20 feet tall in some places, resulting in the loss of over 100,000 head of cattle. The storm knocked down power lines all over the state. In the outlying areas, many residents were without power for two weeks.
The coldest temperature ever recorded in the lower 48 states was at Roger's Pass, Montana, in January of 1954 when the mercury dropped to 70 degrees below zero.