Winter weather is rolling into Montana this evening. Montana is sitting smack dab in-between two developing weather systems. How it will affect you depends on where you are and where you’re traveling this holiday week.
According to meteorologist Ryan Leach with the National Weather Service in Missoula, to our west a storm is slamming into northern California and southern Oregon.
"For most of us on the west side of the divide, it’s mostly going to bring winds, especially on Wednesday. That’s when we're expecting the strongest winds from Kalispell down through Missoula. Then Thursday will keep some of that wind going, even into Friday morning with some wind chills down below zero degrees as our Black Friday shoppers head out."
Starting Wednesday some of those winds could gust to over 40-miles-per-hour.
"One of the things that really has us concerned is up around Flathead Lake and that area, there’s a pretty good signature for what we call a "mountain wave" to come off the Mission Mountains over the lake. It’s a pretty strong signal for damaging winds, especially along the east shore, but generally all-around Flathead Lake; and for large waves on the lake. So that would be Wednesday afternoon, there’s potential for 50 mile-per-hour winds."
Power outages are a possibility in northwest Montana. So again, west of the Divide expect cold and blustery conditions; just don’t hold your breath for much snow. Snow is reserved for Montana east of the Divide.
"As you get up to Marias Pass we’re looking at around a foot of snow up there, again with some strong winds coming over the pass," Leach says. "Some localized blizzard conditions up there along the pass, but quite a bit more snow on the eastern side of the Divide."
That snow will really pick up in intensity on Wednesday and start to taper off Thursday.
Great Falls is due for snow, and a winter storm watch is posted for Yellowstone County Thanksgiving night.
The National Weather Service’s take-home message for this Thanksgiving holiday? If you’re headed east of the Divide, take it easy, be prepared for the possibility of snow and some dicey driving.
Western Montana won’t get the snow but will be very windy and by Friday, overnight wind chill temperatures could dive below zero.