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Montana’s weather is as diverse as its landscape. The winters are full of snow while the summers are hot and sunny. The spring and fall temperatures can vary and can sometimes be a surprise. To be sure you are prepared, check out the weather and climate information below for various places around the state. The Montana travel office website has more detailed information on travel resources for Montana.
Up in the northwest corner of Montana, Kalispell is tucked next to the natural splendors of Glacier National Park. Temperatures remain moderate throughout the year, with the lowest coming in December and January. Precipitation remains steady throughout the year with early summer storms in May and June delivering slightly more, while snow falls to coat the many valleys and peaks heavily in late winter and tapers off after April.
Nestled in the meeting of valleys in northwest Montana, Missoula is home to one of the wetter climes that Montana has. While temperatures in the area are normally warmer than the rest of the state year-round, its western position keeps things pretty damp. A majority of the precipitation falls in the early summer and late winter and holds steady at about one inch, the rest of the year. All the moisture keeps Missoula looking gorgeous in green,but it does lead to some significant temperature differences between night and day from April until October.
Butte, America, the mining heart of Montana, also holds the distinction for being one of the coldest places in Montana. Butte, while not quite subarctic, does have some long, cold winters. The signature headframes of Butte’s old copper mines are coated in frost from January (average temperature 18ºF) to May (average temperature 47 ºF), with the summers providing relief with averages in the lower 60s. Precipitation averages almost an inch and a half higher in the summer, with the winters’ chill being slightly offset by the lack of moisture.
Montana’s capitol city boasts great mountain views and access to differing landscapes in all directions, but it’s seasons are somewhat lacking. Helena is known for having long, cold, snowy winters with temperatures averaging in the lower 20s and high teens. After a relatively short spring, the surrounding area blooms green and stays that way through the hot, dry summer. With a majority of snowfall coming in the later winter, Helena’s historic downtown storefronts and wide, flat plains are covered in snow from December until March.
Great Falls sits at the entrance to the expansive plains of Eastern Montana. While Great Falls is home to weather phenomenon like warm Chinook winds in mid-winter to snows in July, it is one of Montana’s more temperate climates. Temperatures reach the high 50s in late-spring and maintain in the high 70s and low 80s until early fall. The winter temperatures maintain in the 20s and 30s, with Chinook winds helping to keep some of the chill off. A majority of the precipitation comes from large thunderstorms in the summer, with some from snows in early-winter and late-spring.
Resting at the foot of the Gallatin Range, Bozeman offers some of the best canyon views in the state. The warmer than average temperatures year round and higher rates of precipitation keep the mountain slopes and valleys green and lush. While it can get colder in the deep winter months, the chill is offset by the beauty of the snowfall that begins in late fall. While it’s easy to get lost in all the grand views offered by the “Valley of the Flowers”, it’s important to keep an eye on the sun, as temperatures can shift drastically after it sets.
Surrounded on all sides by sweeping, grassy plains, Havre sits just an hour north of Great Falls on Montana’s famous Hi-Line. Much to the joy of the wheat farmers whose expansive (and often historic) family farms border Havre, the weather stays hot and dry from April to October, and cold and dry during the deep winter. While thunderstorms are the most common source of precipitation during the year, there is no worry about them interrupting a shoot because with Havre’s views of the plains, you’ll see them coming miles away.
Traveling east from Bozeman through the Bozeman Canyon and past breathtaking Paradise Valley, you reach Montana’s largest city, Billings. Boasting some of the lower snowfalls in the state, Billings’ signature metropolitan cityscapes are meshed nicely with the industrial and refining areas of the city. Temperatures are kept fairly mild from the Chinook winds sweeping in from the plains that stretch to the east and sheer cliffs of the Rimrocks in the city keep weather fairly controlled. While weather isn’t a common phenomenon in Billings, it can be quite a spectacular one. Billings has been host to severe hail storms and, once, a tornado which damaged the 12,000 seat Rimrock Auto Arena.
A Montana city with a truly Montana past, Glasgow rests just north of the immense Fort Peck Lake. Started at a railroad town, the hot winds that once blew across the rails still keep the historic main street fairly warm all year long. Since the surrounding elevation is so low, you’ll be able to see any of the summer storms that give the area most of its precipitation coming a long way off. Still, with fairly low rates of precipitations, you’ll have no better place to capture the true “bigness” of the Big Sky State, than in Glasgow.
Situated right on the Yellowstone River, Miles City offers more than its historic military roots. Because it sits at the intersection of the Yellowstone and Tongue rivers, Miles City has plenty of precipitation to keep the area fertile and lush year round. As you’re panning the 360 degree view that the city offers of Montana’s vast eastern expanses, you’ll be able to see the thunderstorms that water the fields, the sweeping cloud formations that command the skies, and of course, have all the space in the world to breath in the beauty of the Treasure State.
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