Feet of snow expected this weekend in Northern Rockies

Weather

While Central Texas closes out its hottest September on record, parts of the Northern Rockies are bracing for what could be a record-setting fall storm beginning Friday.

The storm set-up:

Trough dropping in over Pacific Northwest

An incoming storm system will move from Washington into northern Idaho and Montana late Friday into the weekend. As this happens, cold Arctic air will seep south over the Canadian/US border into the Northern Rockies. The combination of lift from the trough and cold air from the north will set the stage for a powerful winter weather event for northern Montana.

Expected snowfall:

Forecast of expected snow totals from the National Weather Service – Great Falls, MT

The forecast is currently calling for up to 50″ (over 4 feet) of snow in the higher elevations of northern Montana, primarily near the Rocky Mountain front, where the Rocky Mountains meet the plains. Widespread 6″ to 18″ totals are expected in central parts of the state stretching northeastward.

Gusty winds created blizzard-like conditions:

In addition to heavy snow, gusty northeast winds of 25-35mph will make for blowing snow and drifting snow, dropping visibility in many areas. Blizzard-like conditions are expected both Saturday and Sunday.

Record-cold temps possible:

And on the polar opposite end of what we’ve been experiencing here in Texas recently, a good chunk of the state of Montana will see highs in the 30s and lows in the 20s.

Forecast temperatures – Monday morning (Sept. 30th)

Widespread impacts on travel, power outages & agriculture:

The timing of this early-season storm raises concerns for widespread power outages as trees likely still have their leaves. The dangerous combo of gusty winds and heavy, wet snow will be a prime set-up for widespread downed trees and branches.

Hazardous travel is likely across northern Idaho and much of Montana over the weekend. There is also concern for widespread agricultural loss with record cold temps in the forecast.

If this storm pans out as forecast, it will likely be a historic September storm for the area.

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