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Record-Breaking Winds Knock Out Power To Thousands In Montana

Screen capture from a National Weather Service video showing wind blowing snow off of Point Six mountain near Missoula at 10:30 a.m., January 13, 2021.
Screen capture from a National Weather Service video showing wind blowing snow off of Point Six mountain near Missoula at 10:30 a.m., January 13, 2021.

Powerful winds whipped across the state Wednesday toppling trees, power poles and knocking out electricity to thousands of Montanans.

Anyone hiking Wednesday morning on Missoula’s Mount Sentinel, just east of the University of Montana got a lot more fresh air than they bargained for. 

According to a still unofficial report from the local National Weather Service office, an incredible 125 mile-per-hour wind gust was measured at the top of the popular hiking spot.

According to National Weather Service Great Falls, new January wind speed records were also set Wednesday in Great Falls, Helena, and Havre, at 76, 74 and 72 miles per hour respectively. 

Notable peak wind gusts as of 1100 am MST

Mountain Aeneas - 101 mph

Hornet Mountain - 96 mph

Stevensville - 67 mph

Grangeville - 65 mph

Polson - 59 mph

Missoula - 51 mph #mtwx #idwx— NWS Missoula (@NWSMissoula) January 13, 2021

The powerful winds moving ahead of an incoming cold front dropped trees and power lines, knocking out power to tens of thousands of Montanans. Flathead Electric Cooperative, alone, reported over 16,000 outages by mid-day.

Western Montana’s winds were expected to persist through the mid evening hours then gradually diminish through Thursday morning.

Parts of eastern Montana can expect another blast of Canadian air that will keep the strong winds blowing through most of Thursday.

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