Skip Navigation Linkswww.weather.gov 
NOAA logo - Click to go to the NOAA homepage National Weather Service Forecast Office   NWS logo - Click to go to the NWS homepage    
Great Falls, Montana
navigation bar decoration      
spacer
PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE GREAT FALLS MT
245 PM MST WED DEC 31 2003

...2003 WEATHER SUMMARY FOR NORTH CENTRAL AND SOUTHWEST MONTANA...

AVERAGE TEMPERATURE / DEPARTURE FROM NORMAL:
  GREAT FALLS....45.9 / +2.2
  HAVRE..........44.1 / +1.1
  HELENA.........47.5 / +3.5
  BOZEMAN........43.7 / +1.6
  DILLON.........44.4 / +1.4
  LEWISTOWN......44.3 / +1.7
  CUT BANK.......42.4 / +1.3

HIGHEST / LOWEST TEMPERATURE:
  GREAT FALLS....103 ON JULY 23RD / -20 ON MARCH 8TH
  HAVRE..........105 ON JULY 23RD / -31 ON FEBRUARY 24TH
  HELENA.........104 ON JULY 23RD / -13 ON FEBRUARY 24TH   
  BOZEMAN........101 ON JULY 23RD AND AUGUST 13TH / -35 ON FEBRUARY 24TH
  DILLON.........99 ON JULY 23RD / -20 ON FEBRUARY 24TH   
  LEWISTOWN......100 ON JULY 23RD AND AUGUST 10TH / -19 ON FEBRUARY 23RD
                 AND FEBRUARY 24TH
  CUT BANK.......99 ON JULY 23RD AND AUGUST 10TH / -24 ON FEBRUARY 24TH

PRECIPITATION / DEPARTURE FROM NORMAL / MOST IN 24 HOURS:
  GREAT FALLS....10.20 / -4.69 / 0.73 ON SEPTEMBER 16TH-17TH
  HAVRE.......... 9.81 / -1.65 / 1.28 ON JUNE 19TH-20TH     
  HELENA......... 9.36 / -1.96 / 0.64 ON APRIL 18TH AND JUNE 19TH-20TH
  BOZEMAN........12.65 / -2.06 / 1.17 ON APRIL 17TH-18TH   
  DILLON......... 8.05 / -1.89 / 0.97 ON JUNE 20TH-21ST     
  LEWISTOWN......13.87 / -3.98 / 1.25 ON MAY 4TH-5TH
  CUT BANK....... 5.73 / -6.78 / 0.52 ON APRIL 25TH-26TH

SNOWFALL / DEPARTURE FROM NORMAL / MOST IN 24 HOURS:
  GREAT FALLS....58.2 / -2.7 / 4.3 ON MAY 18TH

PEAK WIND (MPH):
  GREAT FALLS....83 ON AUGUST 8TH
  HAVRE..........60 ON APRIL 12TH AND OCTOBER 23RD
  HELENA.........58 ON AUGUST 22ND
  BOZEMAN........62 ON AUGUST 5TH
  DILLON.........60 ON JULY 24TH
  LEWISTOWN......61 ON NOVEMBER 19TH
  CUT BANK.......69 ON NOVEMBER 28TH

MILESTONES REACHED DURING 2003:
  HELENA.........2ND WARMEST YEAR ON RECORD.
  CUT BANK.......5TH DRIEST YEAR ON RECORD.
  GREAT FALLS....10TH DRIEST YEAR ON RECORD.


2003 WAS DRIER AND WARMER THAN NORMAL ACROSS NORTH CENTRAL AND 
SOUTHWEST MONTANA. THE FOLLOWING IS A SUMMARY OF MAJOR WEATHER 
EVENTS DURING THE YEAR...

JANUARY BEGAN AND ENDED VERY MILD. FOR MOST AREAS...THE WARMEST DAY 
OF THE MONTH WAS ON THE 7TH. RECORD HIGHS OCCURRED AT MANY LOCATIONS 
INCLUDING CUT BANK WHERE THE THERMOMETER HIT 62. THE HIGH OF 68 AT 
LEWISTOWN WAS THE 2ND WARMEST JANUARY TEMPERATURE ON RECORD. GEYSER 
HAD THE AREA/S HIGH AT 69. A CANADIAN STORM SYSTEM MOVED INTO THE 
STATE ON THE 20TH DROPPING HIGH TEMPERATURES TO THE SINGLE DIGITS 
AND TEENS. IT BROUGHT AT LEAST A COUPLE INCHES OF SNOW TO THE REGION 
ON THE 20TH THROUGH THE 22ND...WITH A FOOT AT WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS.

FEBRUARY TEMPERATURES WERE COOLER THAN JANUARY/S. THE COLDEST AIR OF 
THE YEAR VISITED THE REGION LATE IN THE MONTH. WEST YELLOWSTONE HAD 
A LOW OF -45 ON THE 24TH...WHILE WISDOM DROPPED TO -49. GATES PARK 
IN THE BOB MARSHALL WILDERNESS RECORDED -50. EVEN OVER THE PLAINS... 
TEMPERATURES WENT AS LOW AS -29 AT BIG SANDY IN CHOUTEAU COUNTY ON 
THE 23RD.

ONE LAST ARCTIC PLUNGE OCCURRED IN MARCH. IT BEGAN ON THE 5TH WITH 
SOME SNOW...AS MUCH AS 1 TO 2 FEET ALONG THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN FRONT. 
THE COLD SNAP PEAKED ON THE MORNING OF THE 8TH WITH LOWS OF -26 AT 
GATES PARK AND TURNER...-25 AT CHINOOK...-24 AT HARLEM AND -22 AT 
CHOTEAU. THE BRUNT OF THE COLD AIR DID NOT MAKE IT INTO SOUTHWEST 
MONTANA. TEMPERATURES REBOUNDED LATE IN THE MONTH AS SPRING 
APPROACHED. TOWNSEND REACHED 73 DEGREES ON THE 30TH.

APRIL STARTED WITH SEVERAL STRONG WIND EVENTS. ON THE 9TH A WIND 
GUST OF 86 MPH WAS RECORDED 25 MILES NORTH OF LINCOLN. THE WEATHER 
PATTERN BECAME UNSTABLE A FEW DAYS LATER WITH SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS 
DEVELOPING OVER CENTRAL MONTANA. ON THE 11TH LIGHTNING HIT  
COMMUNICATIONS TOWERS ON EAST BUTTE IN LIBERTY COUNTY...KNOCKING OUT 
TELEVISION TRANSMISSION THERE FOR 4 DAYS. A THUNDERSTORM ON THE SAME 
DAY PRODUCED HALF-DOLLAR SIZED HAIL IN GREAT FALLS. ONE OF THE 
EARLIEST TORNADOES EVER WITNESSED IN CENTRAL MONTANA OCCURRED ON THE 
22ND. AT 447 PM...A TORNADO TOUCHED DOWN 7 MILES EAST OF STANFORD... 
MOVING A COMBINE. ON THE 25TH ANOTHER TORNADO WAS ON THE GROUND FOR 
7 MINUTES ABOUT 15 MILES NORTH OF ROY. IT DID NOT CAUSE ANY DAMAGE.

IN MAY...A FEW STORMS INCREASED THE MOUNTAIN SNOWPACK IN THE FIRST 
PART OF THE MONTH. BUT A PROLONGED WARM SPELL AT THE END OF THE 
MONTH CAUSED RAPID MELTING...LEADING TO WIDESPREAD RIVER FLOODING. 
WHITEHALL REACHED 95 DEGREES ON THE 28TH.

BY EARLY JUNE THE GALLATIN...BIG HOLE...AND JEFFERSON RIVERS WERE 
OVER THEIR BANKS WASHING OUT ROADS AND FLOODING FARMLAND. DURING THE 
REMAINDER OF THE MONTH...DOZENS OF SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS MOVED 
THROUGH NORTH CENTRAL AND SOUTHWEST MONTANA. ONE DOWNPOUR IN CASCADE 
COUNTY PRODUCED FLASH FLOODING IN SAND COULEE AND TRACY. 25 HOMES 
HAD FLOOD DAMAGE AND SURROUNDING ROADS WERE FILLED WITH MUD AND 
DEBRIS FROM 1 TO 2 INCHES OF RAIN THAT FELL IN 20 MINUTES. FARTHER 
NORTH...A COLLAPSING THUNDERSTORM PRODUCED AN ESTIMATED 100 MPH WIND 
GUST NEAR HOGELAND IN BLAINE COUNTY. THE START OF THE SUMMER HEAT 
WAVE WAS SEEN AS TEMPERATURES PEAKED AT 103 DEGREES NEAR WINIFRED ON 
THE 30TH.

SURPRISINGLY...FEW THUNDERSTORM OUTBREAKS OCCURRED IN JULY. ONLY 
FOUR DAYS HAD SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WITH A GRAND TOTAL OF 9 SEVERE 
REPORTS IN THE REGION. THIS WAS REFLECTIVE OF A WEATHER PATTERN THAT 
DEALT THE WESTERN U.S. ONE OF THE HOTTEST AND DRIEST SUMMERS ON 
RECORD. EIGHT DAYS IN JULY HAD TRIPLE DIGIT TEMPERATURES SOMEWHERE IN 
CENTRAL MONTANA. THE HOTTEST DAY WAS ON THE 23RD WHEN MOST OF THE 
AREA WAS OVER 100. LOMA REACHED 107 THAT DAY. NOT EVERYWHERE IN THE 
REGION HAD TO DEAL WITH THE EXTREME HEAT HOWEVER. THE TOWN OF 
JACKSON IN A HIGH MOUNTAIN VALLEY OF BEAVERHEAD COUNTY NEVER HAD A 
READING ABOVE 89 DURING JULY.

THE HEAT CONTINUED INTO AUGUST AND WAS MADE MORE MISERABLE BY SMOKE 
FROM WILDFIRES IN WESTERN MONTANA. SMOKE FROM THE LINCOLN COMPLEX 
AND FIRES IN GLACIER PARK DEGRADED AIR QUALITY ACROSS NORTH CENTRAL 
MONTANA. THUNDERSTORMS RETURNED TO THE WEATHER SCENE IN AUGUST. A 
DOWNBURST WIND AT GREAT FALLS PRODUCED A GUST OF 83 MPH. AGAIN 
TEMPERATURES REACHED 107 IN NORTHERN FERGUS COUNTY. COOLER AIR 
FINALLY MADE IT TO MONTANA LATE IN AUGUST...ENDING A PERIOD OF 7 
CONSECUTIVE WEEKS WITH ABOVE AVERAGE TEMPERATURES. GATES PARK 
REACHED 19 ON THE 31ST. THE SUMMER MONTHS OF JUNE THROUGH AUGUST 
WERE THE DRIEST ON RECORD AT LEWISTOWN AND CUT BANK. THESE MONTHS 
WERE THE HOTTEST ON RECORD AT HELENA.

SEPTEMBER WAS THE MOST UNEVENTFUL WEATHER MONTH OF THE YEAR. THE 
FIRST WIDESPREAD MOUNTAIN SNOW OF THE SEASON OCCURRED ON THE 16TH... 
PUTTING AN END TO THE DEVASTATING FIRE SEASON. OVERALL THE MONTH WAS 
AROUND AVERAGE IN BOTH TEMPERATURES AND PRECIPITATION.

THE WIND PICKED UP IN OCTOBER...AND MANY LOCATIONS HAD AVERAGE WINDS 
RANKING AMONG THEIR 10 WINDIEST OCTOBERS. ON THE MORNING OF THE 
17TH...A FEW 100 MPH GUSTS WERE CLOCKED IN WESTERN GLACIER COUNTY. 
BABB HAD THE TOP GUST WITH 106 MPH...AND BOXCARS WERE BLOWN OFF OF A 
BRIDGE NEAR EAST GLACIER. A STRONG COLD FRONT MOVED THROUGH MONTANA 
ON THE 29TH. STRONG WINDS AND BRIEF HEAVY SNOW THAT ACCOMPANIED THE 
FRONT CREATED WHITEOUT CONDITIONS IN SPOTS. ACCUMULATIONS OVER 3 
INCHES WERE RARE AT LOWER ELEVATIONS... BUT AN OBSERVER ON THE NORTH 
SLOPES OF THE HIGHWOOD MOUNTAINS MEASURED A TOTAL OF 29 INCHES IN 48 
HOURS FROM THIS SYSTEM. WITH THE SNOW CAME COLDER TEMPERATURES. 
ROCKY BOY WOKE UP TO -12 ON OCTOBER 31ST.

NOVEMBER STARTED COLD AND SNOWY. BUT THE WIND AGAIN BECAME THE MAIN 
STORY IN MONTANA. ON THE 19TH THE WIND WAS HELD IN CONTEMPT BY MANY 
WHEN IT RIPPED THE LADY OF JUSTICE STATUE FROM ATOP THE CASCADE 
COUNTY COURTHOUSE. SOME AREAS RECORDED THEIR STRONGEST NOVEMBER GUST 
IN OVER 40 YEARS. THE HIGHEST GUST DURING THE MONTH WAS 98 MPH NEAR 
EAST GLACIER...ON THE 28TH. A WIDE RANGE IN TEMPERATURES WAS 
RECORDED DURING NOVEMBER. FORT BENTON REACHED 68 ON THE 19TH...AND 
WHISKY CREEK...IN THE SOUTHWEST...FELL TO -25 ON THE 6TH.

DECEMBER PROVIDED A FITTING CONCLUSION TO THE YEAR WITH DRY AND WARM 
CONDITIONS. THE WARMEST MONTHLY TEMPERATURE WAS 63 AT FORT BENTON ON 
THE 6TH. A LACK OF WIND RETURNED FOR DECEMBER. THOUGH IT WAS NOT ALL 
THAT WINDY AT LOWER ELEVATIONS...LOGAN PASS PEAKED AT 113 MPH ON THE 
12TH. SNOW WAS RARE OVER LOWER ELEVATIONS...UNTIL A STORM ON THE 
26TH AND 27TH PILED UP TO 2 FEET OF SNOW ON THE PLAINS IN FERGUS AND 
JUDITH BASIN COUNTIES AND UP TO 4 FEET IN THE MOUNTAINS. 




Webmaster
US Dept of Commerce
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Weather Service
Great Falls Weather Forecast Office
5324 Tri-Hill Frontage Rd
Great Falls, MT 59404-4933

Tel: (406) 453-2081

Disclaimer
Information Quality
Credits
Glossary
Organization
Privacy Policy
Freedom of Information Act
About Us
Career Opportunities