The chattering teeth, the full-body shiver, the shoulders hunched against the wind — they all served a larger purpose.
Record-setting cold in Butte and elsewhere during the first half of April, along with a smattering of fresh snow, helped preserve the comparatively meager mountain snowpack in southwest Montana.
April has indeed been the cruelest month unless you watch snowpack like a hawk.
“The period from April 9-16 has been the coldest on record [for these dates] across western Montana,” said Robert Nester, senior forecaster for the National Weather Service office in Missoula. “The cold average temperatures have been shattered by 3 to 4 degrees at Missoula, Kalispell and Butte.”
Some relevant records date back to 1894.
Nester said temperatures aren’t really going to rebound to normal through this week.
“They may rise a little to the upper 40s and lower-to-mid 50s but that is still below normal,” he said.
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On April 8, the Natural Resources Conservation Service reported that “the current statewide snowpack is below normal in all but northwest Montana and the northern Rocky Mountain Front.”
The NCRS added, “While a snowy March was needed, it instead brought some sunny days,