Average Weather in Great Falls Montana, United States
In Great Falls, the summers are short, warm, and mostly clear and the winters are freezing, dry, windy, and partly cloudy. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 18°F to 86°F and is rarely below -8°F or above 96°F.
Based on the tourism score, the best time of year to visit Great Falls for warm-weather activities is from early July to mid August.
The hot season lasts for 2.7 months, from June 19 to September 9, with an average daily high temperature above 76°F. The hottest day of the year is July 27, with an average high of 86°F and low of 57°F.
The cold season lasts for 3.5 months, from November 17 to March 3, with an average daily high temperature below 45°F. The coldest day of the year is January 1, with an average low of 18°F and high of 35°F.
Average High and Low Temperature
The figure below shows you a compact characterization of the entire year of hourly average temperatures. The horizontal axis is the day of the year, the vertical axis is the hour of the day, and the color is the average temperature for that hour and day.
Average Hourly Temperature
In Great Falls, the average percentage of the sky covered by clouds experiences significant seasonal variation over the course of the year.
The clearer part of the year in Great Falls begins around June 15 and lasts for 3.7 months, ending around October 4. On July 23, the clearest day of the year, the sky is clear, mostly clear, or partly cloudy 77% of the time, and overcast or mostly cloudy 23% of the time.
The cloudier part of the year begins around October 4 and lasts for 8.3 months, ending around June 15. On March 17, the cloudiest day of the year, the sky is overcast or mostly cloudy 64% of the time, and clear, mostly clear, or partly cloudy 36% of the time.
Cloud Cover Categories
A wet day is one with at least 0.04 inches of liquid or liquid-equivalent precipitation. The chance of wet days in Great Falls varies throughout the year.
The wetter season lasts 2.2 months, from May 5 to July 11, with a greater than 20% chance of a given day being a wet day. The chance of a wet day peaks at 34% on June 3.
The drier season lasts 9.8 months, from July 11 to May 5. The smallest chance of a wet day is 6% on February 16.
Among wet days, we distinguish between those that experience rain alone, snow alone, or a mixture of the two. Based on this categorization, the most common form of precipitation in Great Falls changes throughout the year.
Rain alone is the most common for 8.6 months, from February 28 to November 18. The highest chance of a day with rain alone is 34% on June 3.
Snow alone is the most common for 3.4 months, from November 18 to February 28. The highest chance of a day with snow alone is 5% on December 1.
Daily Chance of Precipitation
To show variation within the months and not just the monthly totals, we show the rainfall accumulated over a sliding 31-day period centered around each day of the year. Great Falls experiences significant seasonal variation in monthly rainfall.
The rainy period of the year lasts for 7.1 months, from March 25 to October 27, with a sliding 31-day rainfall of at least 0.5 inches. The most rain falls during the 31 days centered around June 3, with an average total accumulation of 2.6 inches.
The rainless period of the year lasts for 4.9 months, from October 27 to March 25. The least rain falls around February 7, with an average total accumulation of 0.1 inches.
Average Monthly Rainfall
The sliding 31-day liquid-equivalent quantity of snowfall in Great Falls does not vary significantly over the course of the year, staying within 0.1 inches of 0.1 inches throughout.
Average Liquid-Equivalent Monthly Snowfall
The length of the day in Great Falls varies significantly over the course of the year. In 2018, the shortest day is December 21, with 8 hours, 26 minutes of daylight; the longest day is June 21, with 15 hours, 58 minutes of daylight.
Hours of Daylight and Twilight
The earliest sunrise is at 5:27 AM on June 16, and the latest sunrise is 2 hours, 46 minutes later at 8:13 AM on December 31. The earliest sunset is at 4:33 PM on December 11, and the latest sunset is 4 hours, 53 minutes later at 9:26 PM on June 25.
Daylight saving time (DST) is observed in Great Falls during 2018, starting in the spring on March 11, lasting 7.8 months, and ending in the fall on November 4.
Sunrise & Sunset with Twilight and Daylight Saving Time
We base the humidity comfort level on the dew point, as it determines whether perspiration will evaporate from the skin, thereby cooling the body. Lower dew points feel drier and higher dew points feel more humid. Unlike temperature, which typically varies significantly between night and day, dew point tends to change more slowly, so while the temperature may drop at night, a muggy day is typically followed by a muggy night.
The perceived humidity level in Great Falls, as measured by the percentage of time in which the humidity comfort level is muggy, oppressive, or miserable, does not vary significantly over the course of the year, remaining a virtually constant 0% throughout.
Humidity Comfort Levels
This section discusses the wide-area hourly average wind vector (speed and direction) at 10 meters above the ground. The wind experienced at any given location is highly dependent on local topography and other factors, and instantaneous wind speed and direction vary more widely than hourly averages.
The average hourly wind speed in Great Falls experiences significant seasonal variation over the course of the year.
The windier part of the year lasts for 6.4 months, from October 11 to April 22, with average wind speeds of more than 9.5 miles per hour. The windiest day of the year is January 17, with an average hourly wind speed of 11.9 miles per hour.
The calmer time of year lasts for 5.6 months, from April 22 to October 11. The calmest day of the year is August 4, with an average hourly wind speed of 7.1 miles per hour.
Average Wind Speed
The predominant average hourly wind direction in Great Falls varies throughout the year.
The wind is most often from the west for 11 months, from January 12 to December 17, with a peak percentage of 55% on June 30. The wind is most often from the south for 3.7 weeks, from December 17 to January 12, with a peak percentage of 42% on January 1.
Best Time of Year to Visit
To characterize how pleasant the weather is in Great Falls throughout the year, we compute two travel scores.
The tourism score favors clear, rainless days with perceived temperatures between 65°F and 80°F. Based on this score, the best time of year to visit Great Falls for general outdoor tourist activities is from early July to mid August, with a peak score in the last week of July.
The beach/pool score favors clear, rainless days with perceived temperatures between 75°F and 90°F. Based on this score, the best time of year to visit Great Falls for hot-weather activities is from mid July to mid August, with a peak score in the last week of July.
For each hour between 8:00 AM and 9:00 PM of each day in the analysis period (1980 to 2016), independent scores are computed for perceived temperature, cloud cover, and total precipitation. Those scores are combined into a single hourly composite score, which is then aggregated into days, averaged over all the years in the analysis period, and smoothed.
Our cloud cover score is 10 for fully clear skies, falling linearly to 9 for mostly clear skies, and to 1 for fully overcast skies.
Our precipitation score, which is based on the three-hour precipitation centered on the hour in question, is 10 for no precipitation, falling linearly to 9 for trace precipitation, and to 0 for 0.04 inches of precipitation or more.
Our tourism temperature score is 0 for perceived temperatures below 50°F, rising linearly to 9 for 65°F, to 10 for 75°F, falling linearly to 9 for 80°F, and to 1 for 90°F or hotter.
Our beach/pool temperature score is 0 for perceived temperatures below 65°F, rising linearly to 9 for 75°F, to 10 for 82°F, falling linearly to 9 for 90°F, and to 1 for 100°F or hotter.
Definitions of the growing season vary throughout the world, but for the purposes of this report, we define it as the longest continuous period of non-freezing temperatures (≥ 32°F) in the year (the calendar year in the Northern Hemisphere, or from July 1 until June 30 in the Southern Hemisphere).
The growing season in Great Falls typically lasts for 5.0 months (154 days), from around May 5 to around October 6, rarely starting before April 17 or after May 24, and rarely ending before September 19 or after October 23.
Time Spent in Various Temperature Bands and the Growing Season
Growing degree days are a measure of yearly heat accumulation used to predict plant and animal development, and defined as the integral of warmth above a base temperature, discarding any excess above a maximum temperature. In this report, we use a base of 50°F and a cap of 86°F.
Based on growing degree days alone, the first spring blooms in Great Falls should appear around April 18, only rarely appearing before March 30 or after May 4.
Growing Degree Days
This section discusses the total daily incident shortwave solar energy reaching the surface of the ground over a wide area, taking full account of seasonal variations in the length of the day, the elevation of the Sun above the horizon, and absorption by clouds and other atmospheric constituents. Shortwave radiation includes visible light and ultraviolet radiation.
The average daily incident shortwave solar energy experiences extreme seasonal variation over the course of the year.
The brighter period of the year lasts for 3.2 months, from May 14 to August 20, with an average daily incident shortwave energy per square meter above 6.3 kWh. The brightest day of the year is July 8, with an average of 7.6 kWh.
The darker period of the year lasts for 3.6 months, from October 28 to February 15, with an average daily incident shortwave energy per square meter below 2.5 kWh. The darkest day of the year is December 24, with an average of 1.3 kWh.
Average Daily Incident Shortwave Solar Energy
For the purposes of this report, the geographical coordinates of Great Falls are 47.500 deg latitude, -111.301 deg longitude, and 3,389 ft elevation.
The topography within 2 miles of Great Falls contains only modest variations in elevation, with a maximum elevation change of 171 feet and an average elevation above sea level of 3,359 feet. Within 10 miles contains only modest variations in elevation (1,266 feet). Within 50 miles contains very significant variations in elevation (6,627 feet).
The area within 2 miles of Great Falls is covered by artificial surfaces (76%) and shrubs (11%), within 10 miles by grassland (51%) and cropland (37%), and within 50 miles by grassland (51%) and cropland (30%).
This report illustrates the typical weather in Great Falls, based on a statistical analysis of historical hourly weather reports and model reconstructions from January 1, 1980 to December 31, 2016.
Temperature and Dew Point
There are 3 weather stations near enough to contribute to our estimation of the temperature and dew point in Great Falls.
For each station, the records are corrected for the elevation difference between that station and Great Falls according to the International Standard Atmosphere , and by the relative change present in the MERRA-2 satellite-era reanalysis between the two locations.
The estimated value at Great Falls is computed as the weighted average of the individual contributions from each station, with weights proportional to the inverse of the distance between Great Falls and a given station.
The stations contributing to this reconstruction are: Great Falls International Airport (42%, 7 kilometers, southwest); Malmstrom Air Force Base (51%, 9 kilometers, east); and Julie (7%, 34 kilometers, northwest).
All data relating to the Sun's position (e.g., sunrise and sunset) are computed using astronomical formulas from the book, Astronomical Tables of the Sun, Moon and Planets , by Jean Meeus.
All other weather data, including cloud cover, precipitation, wind speed and direction, and solar flux, come from NASA's MERRA-2 Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis . This reanalysis combines a variety of wide-area measurements in a state-of-the-art global meteorological model to reconstruct the hourly history of weather throughout the world on a 50-kilometer grid.
Land Use data comes from the Global Land Cover SHARE database , published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Elevation data comes from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) , published by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Names, locations, and time zones of places and some airports come from the GeoNames Geographical Database .
Time zones for aiports and weather stations are provided by AskGeo.com .
Maps are © Esri, with data from National Geographic, Esri, DeLorme, NAVTEQ, UNEP-WCMC, USGS, NASA, ESA, METI, NRCAN, GEBCO, NOAA, and iPC.
The information on this site is provided as is, without any assurances as to its accuracy or suitability for any purpose. Weather data is prone to errors, outages, and other defects. We assume no responsibility for any decisions made on the basis of the content presented on this site.
We draw particular cautious attention to our reliance on the MERRA-2 model-based reconstructions for a number of important data series. While having the tremendous advantages of temporal and spatial completeness, these reconstructions: (1) are based on computer models that may have model-based errors, (2) are coarsely sampled on a 50 km grid and are therefore unable to reconstruct the local variations of many microclimates, and (3) have particular difficulty with the weather in some coastal areas, especially small islands.
We further caution that our travel scores are only as good as the data that underpin them, that weather conditions at any given location and time are unpredictable and variable, and that the definition of the scores reflects a particular set of preferences that may not agree with those of any particular reader.