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Environment & Science

Blackfeet Reservation Prepares For Ground Blizzard

The snow covered Blackfeet Indian Reservation on December 12, 2019.
Katy Kittson
Blackfeet Transit
The snow covered Blackfeet Indian Reservation on December 12, 2019.

A ground blizzard is brewing on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in northern Montana. How is the tribe preparing for high winds and snow drifts?

Katy Kittson, a dispatcher at Blackfeet Transit, says the department has been dealing with late starts and road closures as the storm moves into Browning.

"We already had two busses stuck this morning," Kittson said. 

Gusts of wind up to 70 mph are expected to create “ground blizzard” conditions as far south as Dupuyer and as far north as the Canadian border. That’s according to the National Weather Service, which on Monday afternoon downgraded the storm from a blizzard warning to a winter weather advisory, in effect until Tuesday morning. It says there could be zero visibility and is warning against driving.

Kittson, the Blackfeet dispatcher, says unless tribal council tells the department otherwise, the tribal fleet will still be giving Browning residents rides.

"Right now, we’re doing medical, employment and bringing passengers to the grocery store to get their groceries and things that they need," Kittson said. 

The blizzard comes after a September storm dumped a record-breaking 48 inches of snow on Browning and led Gov. Steve Bullock to declare an emergency.

Monday morning, the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council told all out of town employees to stay home. Many public schools, including Browning Public Schools and Heart Butte School, were cancelled for the day.

The strongest winds are expected to have passed.

Olivia Reingold is Yellowstone Public Radio’s Report for America corps member.