Spring Weather in the Bitterroot
As most of us know, the spring weather changes can be dynamic in Montana. The Bitterroot Valley is no exception. Our weather, generally, seems a little more "gentle" than the rest of the state. We are surrounded by two north-south lines of mountains, which protect us a little.
And, to the west, in the middle of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, is the deep Selway River valley, which parallels the Bitterroot for quite a few miles. I've noticed that it seems to rob some of the energy of storms coming from the Pacific Coast, especially in the south end of the valley. My pet name for it is "The Selway Factor." Follow it along on Google Earth and you'll see the Selway River then makes a 90-degree turn to the west. At that point, the patterns change. It adds to the almost chaotic weather patterns in the north end of the valley.
I admit that no scientific studies have been made on my little theory, but I like it.
Whether you go for that theory or not, when the winds come out of the east-west canyons along the Bitterroot Range, they pick up speed before they spill into the main valley. Then, they hit the Sapphire Mountain Range on the east side of the valley, and as private pilots can tell you, the air gets a little "bumpy" over there. And some of the storms stop for bit and build before rushing on.(See photo)
The storms can be huge and cover the sky, or they can be little clumps of excitement. They are always on display in the spring.