NOAA – 2015 Warmest Year On Record – A Montana Perspective [YouTube]
According to NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2015 was the warmest year since records began being kept in the 1880's.
KGVO News spoke with climate specialist Bob Nestor with the National Weather Service office in Missoula about how Montana fared in 2015.
"It was pretty warm across western Montana in general," Nestor said. "For Kalispell, 2015 was one of the warmest five years on record, and for Missoula, 2015 was one of the top 10. If you remember back in May and June, we all know how hot that was. In fact, June was almost warmer than July. In Missoula, we recorded three 100 degree days, and in the previous 120 years, we only had one."
Nestor said a massive El Nino system was responsible for the record warmth.
"Basically, El Nino is the warming of the equatorial Pacific waters abnormally by about .5 degrees Celsius I would say," Nestor continued. "That impacts the weather in the middle latitudes with its impacts being most felt in the winter months. The jet stream that normally rides further to the north goes a little further south, so California and the other southern tier states get a little wetter, whole the northern states like Montana see less snow and rain, along with warmer temparatures in the mountains."
Nestor said forecasters believe the El Nino patterns will fade by this spring and more normal weather will return to Montana for the remainder of 2016.