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Snow, Gusts, Single-Digit Temps Headed To Montana, Meteorologists Say

Strong gusts, snow and unseasonable cold temperatures are in the forecast for western and north central Montana this weekend.
Strong gusts, snow and unseasonable cold temperatures are in the forecast for western and north central Montana this weekend.

The weekend forecast is calling for bitter-cold temperatures, snow and strong winds; a stark reminder that winter’s not quite done with us yet.

Missoula National Weather Service Meteorologist Travis Booth says a blast of arctic air will spill over the Continental Divide starting Friday morning

"The coldest temperatures as far as daytime highs go will be on Saturday. We’re looking at teens and 20’s across western Montana. That’s anywhere from 20 to 30-degrees below normal."

Western Montana’s valleys by Sunday morning could see low temperatures anywhere from a few degrees below zero to single digits. And that doesn’t even take into account the expected gusty winds.

"Yes. Gusts anywhere from 40 to 50 miles per hour. Saturday morning, we look to have wind chills anywhere from 10 to 20 below in northwest Montana and right around zero here in Missoula."

Most of western Montana’s valley’s will pick up anywhere from a trace amount of snow to a couple of inches, but there will be exceptions

"Some of those more narrow valleys – Thompson Falls, headed up to Libby, Troy, perhaps up to four to six inches of snow. The passes, four to six inches of snow for Lookout pass, similar for Marias, and several inches as for the other passes in the area."

A major Winter Storm to impact North-central MT Friday through Saturday evening. Most significant impacts northwest of a Helena to Havre line. Bitter cold and strong northerly winds will make travel dangerous.
Credit National Weather Service Great Falls, MT
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A major Winter Storm to impact North-central MT Friday through Saturday evening. Most significant impacts northwest of a Helena to Havre line. Bitter cold and strong northerly winds will make travel dangerous.

This system won’t just be limited to western and central Montana. Great Falls could get up to a foot of fresh snow.

"If we took I-90 northward all the way to the border with North Dakota we’d see eventual impacts of snowfall. The coldest temperatures, though, look to be along the Divide and just east of the Divide, not so much into the eastern part of the state."

Forecasters expect a gradual warmup after this weekend, with highs climbing back into the 40s by Tuesday or Wednesday.

Copyright 2020 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Edward O'Brien is Montana Public Radio's Associate News Director.