So far, the winter of 2017-2018 has been significantly warmer than the winter of 2016-2017, according to the National Weather Service Office in Missoula.

Meteorologist Bob Nester contrasted the temperatures in the months of January in 2017 and in 2018.

“The extreme cold temperatures like down to zero degrees or colder, we won’t see those,” said Nester. “Last year we had that extremely cold winter and January’s average temperature was right around 13 degrees. But, this January our average temperature was 29.2 degrees, so about a 16 degree difference.”

Nester said the Missoula area is in currently in a warm and wet pattern that will continue for the next several days.

“There’s a system moving in on Thursday night that might bring a couple of inches of snow, however, right after that, by mid-morning Friday, that will probably all be gone as we’ll have some warm air that will be moving in, while the cold air will be retreating,” he said.

Those who fear the lack of valley snow may also portend problems with area snowpack, Nester said, as of February 1, levels in the mountains are encouraging.

“For example, the Bitterroots are at 115 percent of normal,” he said. “Up in the Flathead which includes the Seeley Swans, snowpack is at 122 percent of normal, and along the Kootenai and Lower Clark Fork, it’s at 112 percent of normal. So, across western Montana all our basins are above 100 percent of snowpack.”

Nester said the heavy rain that is expected over the weekend will not bring a danger of flooding, unless the rain warms unexpectedly. He said temperatures will warm into the 40’s over the weekend.

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