The Winter That Wasn’t
I don’t know about you, but for the last couple of weeks, I’ve felt like I’ve been stuck inside of some sort of Winter Twilight Zone.
The icy, snowy conditions this week went a little ways toward convincing me that I’m not crazy — it actually is winter. But when I was running outside in a short-sleeved T-shirt last week, I will admit that I briefly considered the possibility that I had somehow been transported to an alternate dimension.
Turns out, most Montanans — along with residents of many other states — have had similar experiences this winter, which has appropriately been nicknamed “The Winter that Wasn’t.” Last week, temperatures soared into the mid- to upper-50s across the state, even hitting 60 degrees in Havre last Wednesday.
High-temperature records that had stood for dozens of years came tumbling down, including one in Kalispell that had been on the books since 1903. (That’s 109 years, for those of you who need to brush up on your subtraction skills.)
Adding to all of the weird-winter hype was a recently released report indicating that snowpack levels across the state are well below average for this time of year — up to 80 percent lower than normal in some regions. Snowfall in Southwest Montana has been so skimpy that the annual Bohart Ranch Nordic Fest in Bozeman was cancelled for the first time in 20 years.
From what I’ve read, Montanans shouldn’t be concerned about the unusually warm, dry weather pattern of late. (Unless they plan to venture into backcountry terrain, where the avalanche danger is considerable.) In fact, conditions this winter are comparable to those in early winter 2010, which preceded a colder, wetter-than-average spring.
At the end of the day, people (including myself) will complain about the weather no matter what it is doing. If there’s too much snowpack, they’ll worry about flooding — who could forget Flood Watch 2011 — and if there’s not enough moisture, they’ll fret over drought and global warming.
My advice: relax. The season is young, and there is still a lot of time for Old Man Winter to work his magic.
Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.