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Entries in Montana storms (9)


High country snow, rain and potential flooding in Montana forecast

Glacier National Park webcam photo (MISSOULA)- Wet, warm weather has began pounding Montana, increasing the potential for heavy mountain snow, flooding and rockslides. 

The moisture is coming from the "atmospheric river", which is combing the Northwest with strong, wet surges of moisture through mid-week. 

The incoming storms brought heavy, wet snow to the higher elevations Monday afternoon and evening. Several inches of new snow brought a return to winter driving conditions on the Western Montana passes through the evening, with chains required for towing units over  Lookout Pass. Lost Trail and Lolo passes were also receiving heavy snow. 

Meanwhile, emergency service agencies in Northwest Montana were gearing up for 1 to 4-inches of heavy rain, which could bring flooding, and rock and mudslides in the valleys. 

Temperatures are going to be 10-to-20 degrees above average through the middle of the week. 


Cleanup continues from Missoula storm; thousands still need power

Dennis Bragg photo (MISSOULA)- Thousands of residents are still without power in the Missoula and Bitterroot valleys following last night's severe thunderstorm. However, Northwestern Energy is bringing in more crews from all over Western Montana to help repair the extensive damage left behind.

The storm came roaring out of the Bitterroot just after 5 p.m. bringing wind gusts as high as 74-miles per hour into Missoula, snapping power poles like matchsticks and starting dozens of fires. 

Although the damage was widespread, some areas like Target Range and Linda Vista were especially hard hit. And coping with the destruction isn't over. 

Residents were busy today clearing away the storm's debris, or impatiently wondering when their lives will be back to normal. Damage is easily in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and Northwestern Energy is bringing 10-additional crews from Helena, Great Falls and Butte to relieve the local crews that have been working throughout the night. 

Northwestern Energy is bringing in some temporary substation and generator capacity, but says even with those measures, up to 1800 still won't have power in Linda Vista. 

There's no specific estimate on when power will be fully restored. But Northwestern is advising customers to keep refrigerators and freezers closed to preserve food, and make sure extra lights and appliances are turned off to help with a gradual restoration of service when power is available. 


Missoula slammed with near hurricane force wind gusts

Dozens of trees were felled in Monday's thunderstorm -Dennis Bragg photo(MISSOULA)- The exceptionally fierce thunderstorm absolutely blasted through the Missoula Valley this evening, uprooting trees and power lines, and starting dozens of smaller fires with winds that were gusting as high as 70-miles per hour.

The biggest concern going into the afternoon had been the potential for both thunder and lightning, but also exceptionally strong outflow winds. And after roaring through the Bitterroot, the winds funneled through the north end of the valley, hitting the south end of Missoula full force, ripping out dozens of trees by the roots, knocking down hundreds of power lines and starting dozens of fires. 

One of the largest fires raced up the hillside above I-90 at Airway Boulevard, sending Missoula Rural Fire and DNRC wild land fire crews racing to the scene. At first the winds were so bad firefighters couldn't tell what was dust, and what was smoke, as they gave chase up the hillside. Fortunately, a sudden onslaught of rain hit at exactly the right time, dowsing the hillside and preventing any further threat to homes…

Fire crews throughout the valley were absolutely swamped with calls of fires, and downed lines. The response was complicated by the power outages, the level of phone calls and even some problems with radios during the height of the storm. 

With neighborhoods littered with the aftermath of the storm, it could be a couple of days before all the mess is cleaned up and the damage estimated.


Western MT temps to warm slowly, still very cold for the east

Temperatures across the Northern Rockies plunged to nearly -30 this weekend- GNP webcam photo(MISSOULA)- If you're idea of a "heat wave" is 17-degrees, you know you've been in one heck of a cold snap. 

That's what the forecast high in Missoula is Monday, following a weekend that saw temperatures statewide plunge to bitter, and even dangerous cold across Monday. 

Missoula, usually called the "Garden City" because of its relatively mild temperature, at least by Montana standards, barely climbed above zero all weekend long. But other temperatures were far more frigid. Great Falls was well below -20 most of the weekend. Havre was only -36 on Sunday. Jordan and Miles City residents took cover from -42 readings on Friday and Saturday. 

And those numbers don't even count the wind chill factor, which pushed the "feels like" temperatures down another 15-to-20 degrees and raised the serious risk of frostbite with prolonged exposure outside. 

In fact, two traditional "cold spots", West Yellowstone and Choteau, were actually the warmest in the state over the weekend, with highs in the single digits and mid-teens.

However, a tiny bit of relief is on the way this week, as the Arctic air that put the Treasure State in deep freeze starts to recede back into Canada. While Missoula slowly climbs back into the 20s, and then 30s by mid-week, Great Falls and North Central Montana will rebound to 32-degrees under sunny skies, although that won't happen until we cope with a threat of snow to start the week.

Wind chill warnings were still in place across Southwest Montana where lows will still be in the single digits even at mid-week in Bozeman. 


New storm means snow, very cold temperatures for southern parts of MT

Clouds were already building over Southwest Montana locations Tuesday afternoon- MDT camera at Big Hole Pass(BILLINGS)- There'll be no doubt the calendar says "November", especially across the southern half of the state Wednesday morning.

The National Weather Service says a rapidly moving cold front will bring several inches of snow to more than a dozen counties, but will also cause temperatures to drop rapidly overnight. 

Much of the Billings region has been enjoying temperatures well into the 50s this week, while the west half of the state dealt with a storm that dumped more than a foot of snow across the higher elevations. Now it's Southeast and Southwest Montana's turn, with forecasters expecting several inches of snow that could make driving tricky even down into the valley locations. 

Snow and winds could also impact the Northern Continental Divide and the Rocky Mountain Front, with temperatures in the Great Falls area dropping to near single digit ranges by Wednesday night.