Torrential rainfall swept the valley in October, from Kalispell to Glacier National Park, with precipitation levels surpassing 100-year records.
Last month was the wettest month on record in West Glacier. The weather station inside Glacier National Park recorded 10.6 inches, the most of any single month since weather data has been collected in the park starting in 1914. The previous precipitation record was 9.48 inches, set in December of 1917. Data collection at that time was done monthly and subject to error.
“Historically, June has been the month with the most precipitation, closely followed by January and then December,” said Lead Fire Effects Specialist Michael McClellan. “But not this year, obviously.”
The Fire Management Program monitors the weather station in West Glacier, sending someone out at 4 p.m. daily to measure precipitation and temperature. The station is one of three actively monitored each day by employees at the park. The other two are in St. Mary and East Glacier.
The record rainfall also hit Kalispell. The final day of the month saw 0.74 inches of precipitation at Glacier Park International Airport, bringing the final October total to 4.86 inches, a new record, according to the National Weather Service. The previous record for October was 3.40 inches set in 1914. The average for the month is roughly 1 inch.
The climate station at Hungry Horse Dam also reported a new rainfall record for October. A total of 12.83 inches was reported at the dam last month. The previous record was 7.34 inches, set in 1995.
The National Weather Service reported 14 stations across the state set records for the wettest October on record.
The transition from fall to winter is underway, and the National Weather Service is forecasting freezing fog across northwest Montana the rest of this week. Drivers should prepare for hazardous travel due to limited visibility and icing on overpasses and high elevation roadways.
Also, air travel may be impacted by delays due to visibility less than a quarter mile at times, the agency said.
Precipitation looks to be a major part of the upcoming winter season, with forecasters predicting average snow levels in the Flathead Valley and plenty of snow in the mountains. A low-level La Niña season will likely push more storms through the valley, forecasters said, with average temperatures for that time of year.
Wettest Octobers on Record in West Glacier
West Glacier Weather Station Monthly Records
January — 7.66’’ (2006)
February — 5.87’’ (1940)
March — 6.49’’ (2014)
April — 4.72’’ (2011)
May — 6.09’’ (1996)
June — 7.90’’ (2012)
July — 5.11’’ (1993)
August — 5.14’’ (1954)
September — 6.17’’ (1968)
October — 10.60’’ (2016)
November — 7.53’’ (1995)
December — 9.48’’ (1917)
Source: National Park Service