Wednesday, March 21, 2018

 Hardin city worker Steve Hopes uses a front-end loader to pile snow along Custer Park. Between last Thursday and Saturday, the city was blanketed with 14-16 inches of snow.

Winter snowstorm passes through Big Horn County

Subzero temperatures and icy winds were the status quo in Big Horn County from last Thursday morning to Saturday. In Hardin, a snowstorm blanketed the city with 14 to 16 inches of snow.

Despite the significant snowfall, Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator Ed Auker reported a low amount of severe effects caused by the recent weather compared to past years.

“We’ve had the normal annoyances for winter,” Auker said. “I was pleased to see that most folks stayed home during the whole thing.”

According to, the lowest temperature in Big Horn County over the weekend was recorded around 6 a.m. Saturday at 16 degrees below zero. Temperatures in various areas may have been colder, as Hardin’s First Interstate Bank information marquee reported the temperature Saturday night to be 30 degrees below zero.

Auker reported Tuesday that ice jams have occurred where the Bighorn River meets the Yellowstone River. Water is reported to be spreading across low-lying areas south of the I-94 bridges.

“In 1978, the [hydrologic] gauge reported the river to be at 14.5 feet, while in 2011 it was about 11 feet,” Auker stated in a recent email. “Everything else was 7 feet or below.”

According to a U.S. Geological Survey observation report, river levels began rising around 10 a.m. Saturday. Monday’s reports showed the Bighorn River to be at 8.14 feet before slightly decreasing to 7.9 feet Tuesday.

According to the Billings National Weather Service, snow is possible from Friday night through Christmas Day with the possibility of several inches of accumulations across the region. Temperatures will warm to the 30s and lower 40s Tuesday through Thursday next week, before falling back to single digits and teens over the weekend.

“While we continue to deal with the impacts from last week’s snowstorm…we wanted to bring to your attention the potential for another winter weather system and more widespread snowfall over the upcoming holiday weekend,” the preliminary report states. “Snow removal efforts may be hindered by additional snow accumulation.”

Holiday travel conditions across Montana and the northern plains may become hazardous, do to snowy roads and poor visibility Saturday and on Christmas Day.

Auker suggests travelling with a winter survival kit that includes warm clothes, blankets and food.

“Anything you put in your car is going to be better than something you leave out of your car,” Auker said. “Other than that, our responders have been working hard. Plow operators allow law enforcement, EMS and everyone else to do their job, so I’ve got high praise for them.”