A wet, chilly weather system is moving into Montana this weekend, and for the foreseeable future, it could make the season feel a lot more like autumn than summer.
Western Montana’s beautiful summer weather will continue into Saturday morning, but will be short-lived. A low-pressure system dropping down along the Canadian coast will usher clouds and scattered showers into northwest Montana by tomorrow afternoon.
Missoula National Weather Service Meteorologist Trent Smith says potentially powerful thunderstorms are possible Saturday afternoon. The band of weather would stretch from Flathead Lake south to Hamilton, and out to the mountains along the Continental Divide.
Those storms could drop:
"... probably a quarter, to a half an inch, for most valley locations, with a few areas probably even getting more than that," Smith said. "And then the mountains, especially across the continental divide could, receive a significant amount - upwards to about six inches," he said.
The confidence of that much rainfall is fairly low right now, Smith added, but possible.
All of this will be the opening act to a series of rainy days. Rain is forecast to become widespread by Sunday afternoon, continuing into Tuesday. Temperatures, meanwhile, will dip anywhere from 20-30 degrees from Friday’s daytime highs.
“Friday night, we’re anticipating temperatures to be near 90 here in Missoula, but by Monday afternoon temperatures are only going to be as high into the 60’s," Smith said. "It’s going to be quite a dramatic change.”
This weather pattern isn’t limited to western Montana.
“It’s really going to kind of impact areas north of Great Falls into the Blackfeet region, and out to Glasgow and then move northward with time," he said.
Cool weather and scattered showers are anticipated to last through most of next week.
Experts have predicted western Montana’s wildfire potential to be above normal this summer. The incoming cold front will only temporarily tamp down that risk. Forecasters say temperatures will certainly rebound, the rain will eventually end and the fire risk will again start to climb.