UPDATE: The National Weather Service issued a WINTER STORM WATCH for SW Montana Saturday afternoon through Sunday evening. This means conditions are looking favorable for severe winter weather conditions to develop in our region.
Early snow total forecasts are in the 5"-10" range for most (not all) lower valleys with possibly up to a foot or more in the mountains and over mountain passes. Also wind gusts 30 to 40 mph could produce areas of blowing snow. Wet roads could flash freeze producing dangerous travel conditions.
If forecast models continue to estimate these high snow totals the above winter storm watch will be upgraded to a winter storm warning by Friday. Again significant snow, wind, and Arctic cold air will impact Montana Saturday night through Monday morning.
Updates on the pattern change is coming up tonight at 5:30 pm and 10 pm on KBZK and KXLF and on the CW at 9 pm with Chief Meteorologist Mike Heard.
BOZEMAN – A crazy weather pattern change is coming soon to Montana. Thursday temperatures again soared well above normal and reaching the mid 60s to lower 70s by 1 pm and there will likely be several new record highs today.
A cold front is passing through the state with very little to no moisture but it’s helping to produce stronger surface winds Thursday afternoon. The gusty winds will diminish in SW Montana tonight.
Friday we will be between storms and temperatures will be slightly cooler.
The next weather maker is a Pacific Low-pressure system spinning up into southern Montana Saturday and colder Arctic air digging in at the surface from North to South Saturday.
This is a classic overrunning weather pattern. Warm moist Pacific air overrunning colder Arctic air at the surface will produce an extreme winter storm over most of Montana. Saturday look for valley rain and mountain to develop by late morning. As the colder Arctic air digs in Saturday night rain will change to snow at all levels. Wet roadways could become extremely icy and flash freeze.
Forecast models are showing widespread moderate to heavy snow from SW Montana into central Montana. The area of greatest confidence for heavy snow and gusty winds will be in the Great Falls area over to the Rocky Mountain Front.
The National Weather Service has a WINTER STORM WATCH up from Saturday afternoon through Sunday evening for Northcentral Montana. 1’ to 2’ feet of snow is possible and wind gusts 40+ mph will produce considerable areas of blowing snow.
As of Thursday afternoon there are no winter weather highlights up for SW Montana, however, I do anticipate either winter weather advisories or winter storm warnings to be issued for our region Saturday night into Sunday because forecast models are showing moderate to heavy snow is possible and significant impact to travel is likely.