Wetter, warmer September in the books

2013-10-02T14:45:00Z 2013-10-03T00:23:16Z Wetter, warmer September in the booksBy ZACH BENOIT zbenoit@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

September in Billings, and the region in general, was a little warmer and a whole lot soggier than usual.

“The biggest story of September was the wet weather,” said Tom Frieders, morning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Billings. “It was fourth-wettest September on record for Billings.”

Billings officially recorded 3.64 inches of precipitation for the month, triple the 1.21-inch September average. The bulk of that rain came during two storms on Sept. 7 and 14.

According to the Weather Service, the first storm dropped 1.31 inches of rain while the one on the

Sept. 14 drenched Billings with a daily-record 1.21 inches.

Billings wasn’t the only city in the area swimming in rain at the beginning of the month, either.

Several areas reported upward of 2 inches of rain during the two major storms, including 2.15 inches near Red Lodge, 2.5 southeast of Hysham and 1.79 near Sheridan, Wyo., on Sept. 14.

“There were record levels of moisture in the air,” Frieders said. “We just needed a storm to wring all that moisture out and we got it. For that time of year in September, we were

seeing (moisture) levels that we’d never seen before.”

Temperature-wise, September was about 4 degrees warmer than usual, with a mean temperature of 64.4 degrees, making it the 12th-warmest September on record in Billings.

The average high was 76.2 degrees, while the low checked in at 52.6.

In Miles City, the September mean of 66.1 degrees was 6 degrees warmer than usual while the average high, at 79.4, was a 5.2 degree bump.

Sheridan’s mean of 62.3 degrees was 4.4 degrees higher than normal while Livingston, at 60.8 degrees, was 5 degrees warmer than average.

Frieders said that the warmest days of the month came in the first week, with Billings’ monthly high temperature of 95 on Sept. 5.

The low of 38 was recorded on Sept. 26.

“It cooled down at the end of the month, with some of those systems coming in,” he said. “September is one of those transitional months here in the Northern Rockies, so in September and October, you’re going to see those kinds of fluctuations from the beginning to the end of the month.”

Overall, September provided much-needed relief to a region that’s been in drought for the last few years, although the southwestern part of the state remains fairly dry.

“It certainly helps,” Frieders said. “We’ve seen so much with the drought and the abnormally dry soil conditions.

This will help considerably to replenish those moisture levels and it’s certainly going to be beneficial once next spring sets in.”

Looking forward, the first week or so of October could be rainy and cooler.

The Billings area often sees its first significant snowfall sometime in October.

That could happen as soon as Thursday night, with NWS seven-day forecast calling for a 100 percent chance of rain or snow.

The entire storm system could bring as much as an inch of new precipitation through Friday.

Beyond that, officials with the Weather Service haven’t seen strong signs of what the rest of the month will look like.

“We don’t have any good, solid indicators of how the pattern’s going to evolve over the month,” Frieders said.

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