Kalispell had its third warmest winter on record with an average high of 30 degrees, but the Flathead River Basin snowpack is still well above average at 120 percent, as of the first week of March.
The temperature data goes from December through February, the National Weather Service in Missoula notes.
The warmest average high was the winter of 1952-’53, the Weather Service said.
Storms that brought rain to the valleys saw snow in the mountains, which boosted the snowpack. In fact, the lower valleys were often just warm enough to see rain — places like West Glacier, for example, still have a couple of feet of snow on the ground and even more in some places.
The highest temperature this winter was 56 degrees on Feb. 28. The coldest day was 9 below zero Jan. 14.
Some places have more snow than others. Flattop Mountain in Glacier National Park is 136 percent of average snow water equivalent, while Hand Creek in the Salish Range north and west of Whitefish is just 81 percent of average.
Snowpack doesn’t typically predict the upcoming fire season. By mid-summer, most snows have melted. Timely summer rains have a much greater impact on fire season than snowpack.
Last year, for example, the snowpack was 91 percent of average by mid-March, but the summer of 2019 saw no large local wildfires.
In 2018, by contrast, the snowpack was 137 percent of average, but the region saw several large wildfires, including the Howe Ridge Fire in Glacier National park that burned more than 14,000 acres and several cabins along Lake McDonald.