Tag Archives: Billings

A hot wind moves down the plain

West winds blowing off the Rockies into Billings made things very warm for Montana’s largest city. Even after a so called cold front moved through the city, it stayed hot. That is the power of dry air, down-sloping winds and a little bit of sun. There was a bit of rain and a thunderstorm as the cold front slipped by, which was the difference for Victoria-Weather, who had the top forecast.
Actuals: Sunday – High 91, Low 58
Monday – Trace of rain with a thunderstorm, High 94, Low 64

Grade: C

Billings, Montana to Cleveland, Ohio

Today we go on a 1,584 mile trip through the Northern US. Let’s see what Mother Nature has in store for us!



A large upper-level ridge is found over the Western US, leading to some scorching temperatures throughout the Rockies. Billings could hit 90 degrees! We’ll be well out of town before the temperature spikes that high, however, enjoying dry weather as we drive eastward on I-94 past Miles City and into Western North Dakota. The ridge axis will shift east with us, keeping our day relatively boring (but warm!) as we eventually pull into Jamestown for the night.


An area of low pressure and accompanying cold front caught up with us overnight, bringing some showers to eastern ND. Throughout the day, however, most of the shower activity will dissipate along our route on I-94 through St. Cloud and the Twin Cities as we continue into Wisconsin. We’ll pass back through the front into the warm sector of this system before we finish our day in the Wisconsin Dells, so it will be a toasty end to the day.


That fickle cold front passed us by as we slept last night, but isn’t ushering in a vat of arctic air with it (thankfully). Let’s call it a cool front. It won’t make much headway as it pushes into the Great Lakes, so we can expect a decent amount of clouds throughout the day as we head past Madison and Milwaukee, and past Chicago in early afternoon. There could be a few showers lingering in northern Indiana, but some bigger showers and storms could be waiting for us in northern Ohio as we finish our trip. They could be just off to the south as we pull in during the evening, but they will keep us on our toes as we pull into Cleveland.


Billings, Montana

It’s May 11th, and sleet was reported about 70 miles east of here. Let’s go somewhere else, like Billings. Spring HAS to be there, right? Right?!

At 853pm MDT, the temperature at Billings, MT was 73 degrees under partly cloudy skies. A strong upper-level ridge remains over the Western US, which is leading to some extremely warm temperatures in the Northwest US. This ridge isn’t going to break down until Monday, when an area of low pressure shifts through the Pacific Northwest and into the Northern Plains, dropping a cold front through the Billings area. Temperatures on Tuesday will be a good 10-15deg colder than Mother’s Day and Monday, but we won’t have to worry about that for now. A couple of stray showers and thunderstorms are possible with the front’s passage, but better chances will be found off to the northwest. Enjoy a very warm Mother’s Day!

Sunday: Mostly sunny. High 87, Low 55.
Monday: Increasing clouds, couple stray thundershowers possible. High 89, Low 58.

TWC: Sunday: Partly cloudy. High 88, Low 53.
Monday: Mostly sunny. High 90, Low 59.

AW: Sunday: Partly sunny, breezy and warm. High 87, Low 52.
Monday: very warm with periods of sun. High 90, Low 56.

NWS: Sunday: Sunny. High 86, Low 52.
Monday: Hot and sunny, slight chance of thunderstorm in late evening. High 91, Low 58.

WB: Sunday: Sunny. High 82, Low 52.
Monday: Mostly sunny. High 89, Low 57.

Here we see the incoming system moving towards the Northwest. Eventually this will bring some activity to the Billings area.

Not bad for a forecast from an airport

It was using BWI’s free wi-fi as I waited for a flight from Baltimore when I cobbled this forecast together. Billings is a notoriously difficult place to forecast for, and it is even more harrowing during transitional seasons when the weather is more volatile. The city found itself on the back edge of the dynamic system presently moving through the Ohio Valley and southeast. There were a few rogue flurries on Tuesday that almost everyone anticipated, and a few more on Wednesday that weren’t quite as expected. The strangest thing about this forecast was that the models were extremely helpful with the temperatures. Usually in the spring in the High Plains, they are junk. Not this time. Victoria-Weather had the top forecast of the day. Meteorology is easy!
Actuals: Tuesday – Trace of snow, High 28, Low 14
Wednesday – Trace of snow, High 48, Low 15

Grade: B

Goldsboro, North Carolina to Billings, Montana

Four days, practically on the nose. It’s 2114.5 miles between the two cities, and we will be able to cover that ground at a pace of 64.2mph, which sounds low, until you remember the Appalachians. We will average 513.6 miles on the first three days, with a little leftover for Friday. We had better be on our way.

The start to this trip will be pretty fantastic. We will have a wonderful little warm up with southerly flow filtering off the Gulf of Mexico towards the Ohio Valley. We will reach the back edge of the precipitation associated with the warm front by the end of the first day in the car, in Washington Court House, Ohio, but warm, reassuring sunshine is all that is expected beforehand.

On our second day, things will begin to go awry. We are driving into the teeth of a fairly robust little system welling up through the Mississippi Valley. There will be chances for some warm sector showers and thunderstorms from Washington Court House to about Indianapolis, then heavier rains as the storm tries to sort its triple point out. Between Indianapolis and Peoria, we should be prepared for some heavy, potentially severe weather, with the best threat for tornadoes coming in this little window. From Peoria to our day two terminus, Wilton, Iowa, a strong line of storms will move through with the heaviest rains we will see and some straight line winds. It should begin to taper off as we pull into Wilton, but all told, this could be a very rough day.

This pain in the butt system that caused so many problems for us on Wednesday won’t be through on Thursday, either. Expect the system to pull in enough cold air to generate, yes, snow. In fact, we can expect snow to fall the entire route through Iowa, though by the time we begin to turn north near Omaha, it will begin to abate. Of course, the prime tendril for snow is forecast to point towards South Dakota, which, as luck would have it, is exactly where we are going. Even more light snow will follow us north towards Sioux Falls and west towards Mitchell, destination number three on this journey.

A ridge moving south behind out area of low pressure will wedge up against some lee troughing, and this will mean moisture along the Front Range, as it so often does. Between Mitchell and Kadoka, things will have cleared out just fine. From Kadoka, South Dakota northwest to Billings, however, we will be in store for an aimless wintry mix, fed by the warm temperatures and a little bit of mechanical convection with the ridge pushing back against the downslope. It won’t be terrible, but it will be unseasonable. Sorry about all that.

Billings, Montana

We’re off to Montana today, a location that doesn’t quite realize it is April.

At 253PM, MT, Billings was reporting a temperature of 21 degrees with snow and very low visibilities. A wave moving out of the northern Rockies was generating a deep area if low pressure. High pressure being drawn down the Rockies was providing enough cold air to provide the mid spring burst of winter weather.
The pattern for the next two days will be high amplitude as the deep trough swings through the Plains. A general ridge will move into reinforce the high pressure at the surface after the snow finally ends tomorrow morning. Expect somce breezy conditions and a fairly immediate cessation of snow showers across Billings by noon tomorrow, giving way to a chilly but dry Wednesday
Tomorrow – Snow early, then clearing, High 29, Low 14
Wednesday – Mostly sunny, and a bit warmer High 48, Low 18

TWC: Tomorrow – Mostly Cloudy (snow thru 4am) High 30, Low 15
Wednesday – Sunny High 45, Low 18

AW: Tomorrow – Mostly cloudy High 34, Low 15
Wednesday – Warmer with periods of clouds and sunshine High 53, Low 19

NWS: Tomorrow – A 20 percent chance of snow before noon. Mostly cloudy, High 33, Low 15
Wednesday – Mostly sunny, High 45, Low 18

WB: Tomorrow – Partly sunny. A 20 percent chance of snow in the morning. High 35, Low 14
Wednesday – Mostly sunny High 44, Low 19

It looks like things are looking up in Billings by mid week. How far up is the biggest question for them. Still a pretty messy radar.


Snowstorm: Origins

I think this is a parody of a movie title. I’m not sure. But we were able to get fairly close to the origin of the massive snow storm that has already strafed the Upper Midwest and will continue towards DC before swinging back north to New England when we forecast for Billings. The temperature forecast was, in general, not bad, until you take into account the overnight low we forecast for Sunday morning. Generally, the precipitation forecast wasn’t bad either, with the only issue being timing. The change to snow took place a bit earlier than we expected, and it ended fairly early on Monday, after about 2 inches of snow. Accuweather had the top forecast this time around, though that Sunday low really dragged everyone down.
Actuals: Sunday – 1.7″ of snow, High 54, Low 23
Monday – Trace of snow early, High 30, Low 15

Grade: D

Omaha, Nebraksa to Billings, Montana

This is an awfully boring trip. Omaha and Billings are fun towns (I can honestly only speak for Omaha) but Billings is a little off the beaten path. It will take a day and a half to cover the ground between the two cities, of which there is 854 miles worth. Given that the largest cities between our terminuses are Sioux Falls and Rapid City, we will move fairly quickly, at a pace of 68.8mph. That means the first day will be done after a whopping 550 miles of driving. Let’s tear up some prairie!

So, about zipping through the prairies. Yeah…. A low moving out of the Rockies is raising a lot of questions, namely “what the heck is going on?” Depending on what model you want to believe, the system could bring a myriad of different outcomes for the Upper Midwest in terms of snow accumulation, persistence, and direction, but within the past couple of hours, there has been a bit of convergence. The news is not good for eastern South Dakota. Don’t be surprised if for a not insignificant part of South Dakota, likely from when we get onto I-90, lasting through about Vivan, we encounter some freezing drizzle. The precipitation will really intensify later on tomorrow night, but out drive might be fairly tricky. Rain is possible, but with above freezing temperatures from Vivian to Wall, after which point I think we will be be dry. That will take us to Sturgis, where we will call it a night. Keep your eyes peeled for some dudes on motorcycles!

There will be a fresh dusting of snow as we wake up in Sturgis, but there will likely be a blessed few moments of easy driving as we head out. By the time we reach the Montana border, however, things are going to get a bit dicey. Expect snow and gusty winds to be a problem as we make our way on 212 towards Billings. A fairly robust round of snow will be making it’s way into Billings at about the same time we do, assuming we can continue moving at a fast pace. This short drive has the looks of one that will be fairly interminable thanks to rolling terrain and snowy, blustery conditions. The scenery may not be much to look at, so at least the weather is going to be wild.

Billings, Montana

Oh boy. This is going to be a tough forecast, just because it’s ALWAYS a tough forecast in Billings.

At 353PM, MT, Billings was reporting a temperature of 53 degrees with mostly cloudy skies. A short wave aloft was moving into the Canadian Rockies, and the result was a fairly strong warm front moving into the Dakotas, with the warm advection boosted by west winds off the Rockies.
Model guidance has been rather unreliable this weekend, particularly over the Upper Midwest, notably on where a warm front and eventual inverted trough will set up. Don’t let that fool you. There has been a remarkable consistency around Billings, insisting that tomorrow will be a fairly rainy, windy day. Cold air will wrap in behind the initial rain storm, giving way to some snow. The inverted trough that has proved so elusive in the Upper Midwest seems assured to remain in place over southeastern Montana, and regardless of the position of the low, snow seems in order for Billings.
Tomorrow – Rain with some isolated thunderstorms. Snow late, High 49, Low 34
Monday – Snow expected, 2-4″ High 35, Low 18

TWC: Tomorrow – Showers / Wind (Snow late) High 51, Low 34
Monday – Snow Shower / Wind High 34, Low 29

AW: Tomorrow – Mostly cloudy, breezy and cooler; rain at times in the afternoon (snow late) High 52, Low 33
Monday – Mostly cloudy with snow flurries; breezy and colder High 33, Low 19

NWS: Tomorrow -Rain showers likely before 2pm, then rain and snow showers likely high 51, Low 30
Monday – Snow likely with areas of blowing snow before 11am, then areas of blowing snow and a chance of snow after 11am High 36, Low 21

WB: Cooler. Chance of rain showers in the morning…then rain showers likely in the afternoon. Snow showers likely late in the afternoon. No snow accumulation.High 50, Low 34
Monday – Snow likely in the morning…then chance of snow in the afternoon. Areas of blowing snow through the day. Windy…colder. Accumulations possible High 34, Low 28

Several forecasts and they are all over the place. Naturally, TWC and WB are hurt by their forcasts not going through midnight on Monday. Satellite is seen below.

Hard to believe it”s late May

Well, it is in Billings, Montana. Hard to believe, anyways. (It’s late May everywhere. Check your calendar!) Temperatures in Montana’s largest city couldn’t even reach 60 on Wednesday and only got to 64, despite being on the good side of a warm boundary by the end of the day. The Weather Service and Weatherbug had the top forecasts for Billings.
Actuals: Wednesday – .28 inches of rain, High 57, Low 46
Thursday – Trace of rain, High 64, Low 46

Grade: B