National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

The following is a weather review for the Billings forecast area,
which includes southeast Montana, parts of south central Montana 
and Sheridan County Wyoming.

2017 was a mild year across the region, with average temperatures
a degree or two above normal at each of our official climate 
stations. Precipitation was above normal in west and central parts
(including Livingston, Billings, Sheridan and the foothills) but 
well below normal in the east (including Miles City and Baker). In
fact, as of December 23rd, Miles City was having its 3rd driest 
year on record, behind only 1988 and 2012.

The year started off cold the first half of January, but the 
remainder of the winter and spring saw near or above normal 
temperatures, with near normal snowfall. The first severe storm of
the season produced quarter size hail near Reed Point on May 7th.
Despite the early start to the thunderstorm season, severe 
weather was relatively rare. The Billings Forecast Office issued 
only 31 severe thunderstorm warnings and no tornado warnings in 
2017, both very low numbers. Warm and dry conditions in the early 
summer led to rapidly increasing drought conditions especially 
across northern and eastern Montana. By late summer, extreme to 
exceptional drought was reported from near Judith Gap through 
Forsyth, Miles City and Baker. This led to an increase in grass 
fires and smoky skies. The largest fire in southeast Montana was 
Sartin Draw, burning about 100,000 acres near Ashland. Cooler and 
wetter weather from September into October alleviated these 
conditions somewhat, but as of the end of the year, moderate to 
severe drought continues in these areas. Though mountain and 
foothill locations saw periods of snow in September and October, 
the first widespread snow of the season occurred on November 1st. 
The beginning of November was quite cold and snowy, but the 
weather turned warm and dry from mid November through mid 
December. The end of 2017 saw a return of colder and snowier 

As usual, several new records were established across the area 
during the course of the year. The following is a list of daily 
records either tied or broken at our four main climate sites. 
Records go back to 1934 at Billings, 1937 at Miles City, 1948 at 
Livingston and 1907 at Sheridan.

Record High Temps:    80 on April 13
                      79 on October 25
                      71 on November 23
                      57 on December 12

Record Low Temps:     3 on November 6

Record Precipitation: 0.28 inches on January 31
                      1.26 inches on April 9
                      1.22 inches on September 15

Record Snowfall:      5.6 inches on January 31
                      2.7 inches on November 4

Record High Temps:    78 on March 18
                      79 on April 13
                      79 on October 25
                      68 on November 22
                      73 on November 23
                      60 on December 12

Record Low Temps:     43 on June 24
                      25 on October 4
                      2 on November 6

Record Precipitation: 0.26 inches on February 21

Record High Temps:    59 on February 15
                      72 on March 15
                      75 on March 18
                      71 on April 6
                      99 on July 8
                      95 on September 2
                      98 on September 3
                      92 on September 12
                      66 on November 23
                      66 on November 26

Record Low Temps:     28 on May 26
                      39 on August 10
                      23 on October 3
                      19 on October 4
                      -6 on November 6
                      -3 on November 7

Record Precipitation: 2.40 inches on May 17 (record for May)
                      0.44 inches on September 19
                      0.69 inches on November 1
                      0.39 inches on November 3
                      0.26 inches on December 16

Record High Temps:    64 on February 15
                      76 on March 18
                      81 on April 13
                      88 on May 6
                      102 on July 20
                      81 on October 25
                      74 on November 23
                      70 on December 12

Record Low Temps:     22 on October 4

Record Precipitation: 0.50 inches on January 31
                      0.67 inches on March 23
                      0.52 inches on March 28
                      0.97 inches on March 31
                      1.71 inches on April 25
                      0.70 inches on November 1
                      0.44 inches on December 16

The following is a chronological list of significant or noteworthy
weather events that occurred across the region in 2017.

January 1-2: Snow impacted much of the area, with 2-6 inches of 

January 9-11: This was a generally snowy period of weather, with 
much of the region receiving 3-7 inches, with more over the 
mountains and foothills. Sheridan and Big Horn picked up around a 
foot of snow. The mountains around Cooke City received over two 
feet. On the evening of the 10th, 40-50 mph wind gusts combined 
with the snow to produce whiteout conditions at Judith Gap, 
closing Highway 191 from Harlowton to Eddie's Corner.

January 31 - February 1: Heavy snowfall impacted the mountains and
foothills. 8-12 inches were common from Emigrant/Livingston to 
Big Timber, Absarokee, Red Lodge, Fort Smith and Sheridan. Over 20
inches fell in the mountains just southeast of Livingston. 20 
inches fell at Mystic Lake, with 19 inches at Burgess Junction in 
the Bighorn Mountains. The Billings airport picked up 7.7 inches, 
and the 5.6 inches on the 31st was a daily record.

February 11: Ice jams caused some low land flooding along the 
Musselshell River in Musselshell County. On Dean Road, moving 
water pushed a car into a ditch, and a water rescue was required.

March 8-10: A storm system produced heavy snowfall across much of
the region, heaviest in the west. Billings picked up 6 to 9 
inches. Other totals included: Melville 24 inches, Big Timber 21 
inches, Ryegate 15 inches, Columbus 13 inches, Forsyth 9 inches, 
Hysham 8 inches and Dayton 6 inches.

March 30-31: Significant rain fell on the north slopes of the 
mountains (with snow at the higher elevations). Near 1.50 inches 
of rain fell at Big Horn and Story, and 1.25 inches at Nye. 
Sheridan's 0.97 inches on the 31st was a daily record. Minor low 
land flooding occurred in Sheridan County.

April 9: A storm system brought significant precipitation, in the
form of rain and snow, to Billings southeastward to Powder River 
and southern Carter Counties. Heavy snow fell over the higher 
hills, with 8-12 inches of accumulation in spots. Little snowfall 
accumulated in the city of Billings, but 4-8 inches did fall over 
the surrounding hills. Billings' 1.26 inches of precipitation was 
a record for the day. Over 2 inches of rain fell a little west of 

April 13: This was a very warm day. Highs of 81 at Sheridan, 80 
at Billings and 79 at Miles City were daily records.

April 24-25: Low pressure moving across Wyoming brought heavy 
snowfall to Sheridan County and southeast Montana near the Wyoming
border. Story received up to 18 inches of snow. Other totals 
included: Big Horn 12 inches, Ridge 10 inches, Sheridan 8 inches, 
Biddle 5 inches and Alzada 4 inches. Locations east of the Bighorn
Mountains received between 1.50 and 3 inches of precipitation. 
Sheridan's 1.71 inches on the 25th was a daily record.

April 27-28: Another cool and wet weather system brought rain and
snow to the region. Snow accumulated mainly along the foothills. 
Mystic Lake picked up 18 inches, Red Lodge 8-15 inches, Story 11 
inches and Sheridan 2-5 inches. Precipitation of 1 to 2 inches 
fell in Sheridan County, with up to 1.50 inches along the 
Beartooth/Red Lodge foothills. Billings and Columbus received 
around an inch of rain.

May 7: The first severe thunderstorm of the season produced 
quarter size hail near Reed Point. Another storm produced strong 
winds near Lavina. A large cottonwood tree was knocked down, and 
an alfalfa crop was lost due to wind driven hail.

May 15: Severe thunderstorms produced up to quarter size hail 
near Broadus and Alzada.

May 17: Significant precipitation fell along the mountains and 
foothills, with most areas seeing over an inch, and some 3 to 5 
inches. 4.70 inches fell in the mountains just west of Red Lodge. 
Heavy wet snow occurred at high elevations and along the 
foothills. 3 feet of snow fell at Mystic Lake, 12 inches near 
Clyde Park and Pine Creek, 8 inches at Livingston and McLeod, and 
7 inches in the northern Paradise Valley. The accumulating 
snowfall resulted in several slide offs along I-90 west of 
Livingston over Bozeman Pass. Livingston's 2.40 inches of 
precipitation for the day was a May record.

May 26: Livingston fell to 28 degrees, a daily record low 
temperature, and the 4th coldest temperature ever so late in the 

June 12: A few severe storms occurred. Harlowton had an estimated
60 mph gust with power lines downed. Livingston and Sheridan each
had a 58 mph gust from separate storms. Quarter size hail 
occurred near Bridger. In Miles City, there was tree damage, and 
the airport recorded a 59 mph peak wind gust.

June 24: Miles City set a daily record low temperature with 43 

July 5: A probable microburst blew an outbuilding off its 
foundation in Molt. Another storm produced a 67 mph wind gust at 
Judith Gap.

July 10: Up to ping pong ball size hail fell near Pine Creek. 
Smaller hail (0.50 inch) covered I-90 near Livingston causing 
hazardous driving conditions. Further east, a severe storm 
produced a 71 mph wind gust at Miles City, downing trees and power
lines, starting fires in the city. A power outage was reported 
near Mizpah. 70 mph wind gusts produced a severe dust storm near 

July 16: A very warm low temperature of 77 degrees occurred at 
Miles City. Only 2 low temps have been warmer since records began 
in 1937: 79 on 7/24/2007 and 78 on 6/20/1988. During the early 
morning, a severe thunderstorm caused wind damage in Miles City, 
downing trees and power lines, and damaging sheds. Later in the 
day, another storm produced a 76 mph gust east of Ekalaka. A 
spotter said "all sorts of stuff was blown around the yard."

July 17: A severe thunderstorm produced a 68 mph wind gust near 

July 18: A severe thunderstorm caused extensive crop damage and 
broke windows near Ridgway, due to 1.25 inch hail and 70 mph wind 

August 1: Severe thunderstorms produced some tree damage at 
Billings and near Roberts, Melstone and Hardin. Fence damage was 
reported just west of Billings. There was also some minor street 
flooding in Billings.

July - Early September: Hot and dry weather resulted in rapidly 
increased drought conditions, especially across northern and 
eastern Montana. There was increased grass fire activity in our 
area. The Sartin Draw fire burned about 100,000 acres near Ashland
in late August and early September. The Tongue River Complex (Lee
Creek and Witten Fires) burned 29,000 acres in mid July. The 
Buffalo Fire burned 3,000 acres southwest of Broadus in late July.
The Mendenhall Fire burned 1,300 acres near Springdale along the 
west fork of the Boulder River. Skies were smoky on many days due 
to the large number of wildfires across western Montana.

September 14-16: FINALLY, a widespread and long duration 
precipitation event impacted the region. Most of the area received
between 1 and 1.25 inches of rain. Mountains received snow, and 
Beartooth Pass was closed for at least 2 days. The greatest 
precipitation report was 2.77 inches a few miles west of Lame 

September 19-20: More precipitation occurred, especially along 
the foothills where amounts ranged from 0.33 inches to an inch. 
Mountains picked up more snowfall, with up to 7 inches near Cooke 

September 21-23: More rain and mountain snow. 1-2 inches of 
precipitation fell in an area from Rapelje and Columbus to the 
Beartooth Foothills. Many locations at lower elevations west of 
Billings received 1 to 4 inches of early season wet snowfall. Red 
Lodge and Melville picked up about 6 inches. 10-20 inches of snow 
fell in the Beartooth Absaroka Mountains.

October 3: An area from Judith Gap and Harlowton over to Roundup 
received 1-3 inches of snow. Roads were slick.

October 22: Strong winds affected much of the region, especially 
along the foothills and across northern parts of the forecast 
area. Some peak gusts included: Nye 73 mph, Rock Springs 70 mph, 
Livingston 69 mph, Judith Gap 67 mph, Baker 63 mph, Roundup 60 
mph, Harlowton 60 mph and Ingomar 58 mph.

October 25: Another period of strong winds affected the western 
foothills. Peak gusts included: Livingston 66 mph, Judith Gap 64 
mph, Harlowton 64 mph and Big Timber 59 mph.

October 31: The combination of strong winds aloft and weak 
showers spreading off the Crazy Mountains produced a peak wind 
gust of 74 mph at Big Timber. The Big Timber airport gusted near 
or over 60 mph for about 3 hours.

November 1: The first measurable snowfall occurred for much of the
region. The Billings airport picked up 3.2 inches. Other amounts 
included: Mystic Lake 10 inches, Red Lodge 8 inches, Mcleod 6 
inches, Pryor 5 inches, Story 5 inches, Columbus 5 inches, Joliet 
5 inches and Livingston 2 inches. As temperatures fell below 
freezing that night, roads became icy and there were numerous 
slide offs reported on area highways.

November 2-3: More snow fell across the region, heaviest in the 
west. Totals included: Melville 15 inches, Judith Gap 11 inches, 
Wilsall and Two Dot 9 inches, Rapelje 8 inches, Springdale to 
Reed Point 6 inches, Red Lodge 6 inches and Billings 3 inches.

November 6: Livingston dropped to -6, a daily record low 
temperature. Billings (3) and Miles City (2) also set daily record

November 19-20: Strong winds occurred along the foothills. 
Livingston's peak gust was 70 mph, Big Timber 67 mph and Roscoe 64

November 23: It was a very warm Thanksgiving, with daily and 
Thanksgiving records set at Sheridan (74), Miles City (73), 
Billings (71) and Livingston (66). Record warm min temperatures 
were also set at Billings (52), Livingston (52) and Miles City 
(41). Also, it was windy especially along the foothills. Sheridan 
had a peak wind gust of 68 mph downsloping off the Bighorn 

December 12: This was a very warm day across the region. Sheridan
set a daily record high temperature with a whopping 70 degrees. 
Billings tied a record with 57.

December 3-4: A weather system brought mostly 1-4 inches of snow 
across west and southern areas, with higher amounts along the 
foothills including: Red Lodge 8 inches, Story 8 inches, McLeod 6 
inches, Judith Gap 5 inches and Pryor 5 inches.

December 5: Strong northwest winds affected eastern parts of the 
forecast area. Peak gusts included: Miles City 60 mph, Rock 
Springs 58 mph and Ekalaka 57 mph. During the night, strong winds 
to 55 mph surged through Sheridan County, causing power outages at
Story and near Ranchester.

December 15: Strong southwest winds occurred at Livingston, with 
a peak gust of 73 mph at the airport. Gusts to 60 mph occurred at 
Big Timber.

December 16-17: A weather system produced 6 inches of snow at 
Livingston, Big Timber and Reed Point. Pine Creek picked up 8 
inches, and Clyde Park 10 inches.

December 22-23: A snow event produced up to a foot of snow in the
Livingston area. Other totals included: Big Timber and McLeod 8 
inches, Pine Creek 6 inches, Columbus 6 inches, Sheridan 5 inches,
Joliet 5 inches and Billings 3-5 inches.

December 25:  It was a very chilly Christmas. High temperature at 
Miles City was zero, and it was only 3 above at Billings. Plevna 
dropped to -22 degrees. For Billings, it was the 6th straight 
White Christmas with 5 inches of snow on the ground.

December 28-31:  Widespread snowfall followed by arctic air. Many 
western locations picked up a foot or more of snow. An observer 
southwest of Roundup reported 24.9 inches, Hardin 18-24 inches, 
Livingston 12-16 inches, Hysham 15 inches, and 10-15 inches in the 
Billings area. Billings’ snow depth of 17 inches on New Year’s Eve 
was a record. On the 31st, record cold high temperatures were 
observed at Livingston (-6), Billings (-6) and Miles City (-7). 
The temp fell to 31 below at Baker.

Have a great 2018 everyone!