The mild weather that has been the signature of this fall is going to come to an end Thursday, at least briefly, as a winter storm descends on the northern Rockies.
The impending storm system has led the National Weather Service to issue a winter storm warning and could dump nearly two feet of snow in the mountains and up to a foot in the valleys across southwest Montana, said Ben Hoenisch, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Great Falls, during a press conference Tuesday.
The storm will be a product of a moist system moving west off the Pacific Ocean and a cold air mass dropping down out of Canada, Hoenisch said.
“It’s the combination of those two features that will bring in the cold air and supply the moisture,” Hoenisch said.
The moisture should start in southwest Montana as rain on Thursday and then switch to snow Thursday night as the cold air moves in from Canada. The Pacific system has moisture similar to amounts seen during spring rain storms and is a bit unusual for this time of year.
Along with the snow, will be a likelihood of a cold north wind that could cause blizzard conditions.
On Tuesday, the forecast called for snow to fall through Friday night and then taper off into Saturday, but the cold temperatures will stick around and Saturday night could be the coldest of the storm. High temperatures Saturday should only be in the teens across much of Montana, with lows in the single digits to zero.
Travel will be hazardous during the storm and Hoenisch recommends that people make sure the winterization chores are done prior to Thursday afternoon. Also, people travelling should always carry a winter weather survival kit.
Temperatures Thursday are forecasted to be in the mid to high 40s with lows in the 20s, but high temperatures on Friday will only be in the 20s.
Temperatures on Monday of next week are forecasted to be closer to normal with highs in the 30s and lows in the teens.
Editor’s note: if the storm impacts our area like it is forecasted to, please submit your weather pictures to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.