On The Bricks

September 8, 2020

The weather recently has been a shocker. It was hot. Really hot. And then it got cold. And rainy. I love it, but I can’t believe how much it has rained and how the temperature has changed. But that’s nothing …

While a 100 – degree change in temperature in the same day is extremely rare, it has happened at least twice since meteorologists started keeping records. And both times it happened in Montana.

When the weather turns on a dime, it is usually because of a collision of weather fronts, the boundaries between huge masses of air with different densities, temperatures, and humidity levels. Montana seems to be ground zero in an on – going weather front war.

The biggest 24 – hour temperature swing on record occurred in Loman, Mont., on Jan. 14 and 15, 1972. The thermometer climbed from -54 degrees up to 49 degrees, a change of 103 degrees. This barely beat the previous record, set 190 miles away in Browning, Mont., on Jan. 23, 1916, when the temperature went from 44 degrees down to -56 degrees.

Montana owns the 12 – hour records, too. Temperatures in Fairfield, Mont., dropped 84 degrees between noon and midnight on Dec. 14, 1924. And on Jan. 11, 1980, the temperature in Great Falls, Mont., jumped 47 degrees in just seven minutes.

This happens because of chinook winds – warm, dry air masses caused by high mountain ranges. Chinooks form when moist, warm air from the Pacific Ocean encounter the Rocky Mountains along Montana’s western border. As an air mass climbs the western slopes of the mountain range, its moisture condenses rapidly, creating rain and snow.

The rapid condensation sets the stage for the chinook effect by warming the rising air mass. Then, as the air mass descends the other side of the mountain range, the higher air pressure at the lower altitude compresses it, making it even warmer. The result is an extreme warm front that can rise temperatures drastically in a short period of time.

Famous Okie information: The nation’s first “Yield” traffic sign was erected in Tulsa.

Just FYI: Mount Baker in Washington State is the world record holder for the most snowfall in one season. In the winter of 1998 – 99 the ski resort recorded 1,140 inches of snow.

More FYI: Plateau Station, Antarctica, a scientific station that operated from 1965 to 1969, is on average the coldest place on Earth. The average annual temperature there is -70 degrees F.

Keep going on New Years resolutions: Take some of your paychecks and put in savings or invest. Even a small amount can add up. Plan for the future. Be smart with your money.

Made me laugh: The first time I see a jogger smiling, I’ll consider it. ~Joan Rivers

See you on the bricks, soon! Stay safe.