I was in for a rude awakening my first winter living in West Yellowstone, MT. When we moved, I had a rough idea of the snow that I was in for but severely underestimated the amount that actually falls. At first, it seemed like any normal storms that we would get growing up in Southwestern Montana. Then came February, and the big storms started. It’s not uncommon to get 10” to 20” of snow in a week (West Yellowstone, MT averages 166” yearly). We lived 5 miles out of town in a little cul-de-sac and about once a week, I had to be pulled out of our driveway or pull the plow truck when it got stuck.
Getting home from work, plowed that morning before leaving
The next struggle was the absolute bitter cold that West Yellowstone gets at least once a year. For one week, the high reached a blistering -26 °F (-32 °C), and the low was -43 °F (-42 °C). We learned very quickly that vehicles and equipment do not enjoy the cold either. After our first cold snap, all the vehicles got brand new block heaters and a new timer to have the vehicles plugged in nightly.
Now, this may all seem like doom and gloom, and you probably wonder why in the world would anyone want to live there? The answer, once you learn how to manage these massive amounts of snow and extreme cold, it’s an amazing place to live. Very rapidly, I learned to plow early and plow often. Even with my four-wheeler, I could keep up with clearing the roads, and if I got behind, I had neighbors to lend a hand with their plow trucks. As for the cold, having quality layers upon layers upon layers was the key to staying warm and, of course, plugging in the vehicles.
Another tidbit about living in West is that the school had their first snow day in 12 years; a massive storm set a new record for the town with 24” of snow fell in 24 hours, which closed Targhee pass for 8 days. A lot of students in West lived over this pass and could not make it to class; thus they closed school for one day. However, most of those students still made it to class by driving their snowmobiles over the pass.