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Published on March 24th, 2015 | by Guest Writer

5 Facts that Prove Montana Weather is Insane

If you walked outside anytime recently, you will find that the weather is never predictable and always changing. One year, there’s a mild winter, the next, it feels like a blizzard hits in October and doesn’t leave until April. Every year is different and it seems to be getting worse at predicting what it will do.

To show you how unpredictable and ever changing it is, here are some of the most insane facts about Montana weather.

Montana was recently colder than Mars.

Public Domain Photo taken by Viking 2

Yes, on January 6, 2015, Montana got colder than the red planet.  Temperatures dropped quickly as a cold wave crushed most of the mid-West in an icy, windy grip.  The temperate that day plummeted to -61 degrees. So how cold was Mars on Tuesday, January 6?  The Mars Rover sends daily temperatures back to earth and it ranged from -13 to -24 degrees that day. Montana outdid itself this time by being colder than a planet further away from the sun.

Montana has experienced hurricane strength winds despite being nowhere near an ocean. 


Montanans, especially those east of the divide, know strong winds.  In 1989, things got ridiculous.  Because of an arctic air mass Shelby saw winds of 100 mph, Cut Bank saw 102, Augusta 114, Browning 117 and Cut Bank saw winds of 124 mps (!!!).  That is equivalent of a category three hurricane!

Montana once saw the temperature change 47 degrees… in only 7 minutes.

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Photo by Ryan Wilson of Montana Storms (we’re tired of snow so you’re just getting badass pictures of Montana weather).

January 11, 1980, in Great Falls, the day started out with a chilly -32 degrees. But in seven minutes, it rose to 15 degrees. What happened? A warm Chinook wind choked out the Artic airmass and caused the warm weather change in such a short amount of time. This is the most rapid air change in the recorded history of the entire United States. A milestone in Montana’s history, really.

Montana also saw a drop of 84 degrees… in 12 hours. 

Photo by Ryan Wilson of Montana Storms (we're tired of snow so you're just getting badass pictures of Montana weather).

Photo by Ryan Wilson of Montana Storms (we’re tired of snow so you’re just getting badass pictures of Montana weather).

How would you have liked to be outside on a warm, 63 degree weather day, only to be freezing at -21 by midnight that same day?! On December 14, 1924, in Fairfield, the temperate dropped 84 degrees from noon to midnight, only 12 hours apart. This is one of the fastest dropping temperatures that has been recorded in U.S. history. Goodbye Chinook wind and hello Artic airmass!

Biggest Range between coldest and hottest weather? You guessed it – Montana.

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Photo by Ryan Wilson of Montana Storms (we’re tired of snow so you’re just getting badass pictures of Montana weather).

We’ve demonstrated Montana can change its temperature quickly, but this record took some time.  In 1937, Montana recorded the hottest temperate it ever recorded when it reached 117 degrees in Medicine Lake!  In 1954, Rogers Pass was a frigid -70 degrees, the coldest temperature ever recorded in Montana. This makes it the all-time temperature range recorded in Montana 187 degrees… that is a bigger range than any other state in the Union!

With vast weather changes and not know what tomorrow may hold, it’s a state to definitely be in. Never a dull moment when the temperature can change in either seven minutes or twelve hours.

This article written by Monica Miller.  She is a freelance writer for the Montana Mint.  Check what she can do for you at www.monicawrites.com

Cover photo and other Montana pics from Ryan Wilson of Montana Storms.  Check out more of his work at http://mtstorms.com/

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