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Entries in Montana weather (79)


Warmer weather starting to reduce Montana snowpack

(MISSOULA)- While there's still a lot of snow in some parts of Western Montana, warmer temperatures and last week's heavy rains are finally starting to trim back the snow reserves in some basins. 

The region has had a greater than normal snowpack for much of the year, following a long, wet winter. 

Snowpack remains strong in several basins, including the Lower Clark Fork, the Flathead and the Kootenai-Cabinet region, where the amount of snow is still as much as 188% of normal for this time of the year. 

However, last week's heavy rains had a big impacts on the Upper Clark Fork and Bitterroot basins, which have dropped back to less than 25% of normal. 

Other locations, such as the Jefferson and the Upper Rocky Mountain Front are just above 100% of normal for the this point in June. Snowpack also remains well above average in the Upper Yellowstone, although the Gallatin Basin is about half of what would be normal at this point in the season.


Montana temperatures to soar mid-week

Rivers will continue to run high this week- Dennis Bragg photo(MISSOULA)- After more thunderstorms rumbled across the Northern Rockies to finish the weekend, forecasters are expecting a dramatic rise, and then fall, in temperatures this first full week in June. 

While the northern half of the state was waking up to cloudy skies Monday morning, conditions were rapidly clearing across Southwest and West Central Montana, with highs expected to rebound into the mid to upper 70s. 

But the more dramatic change is still to come.

Forecasts are for many locations, especially in the Western Montana valleys, to climb back into the low-to-mid 80s Tuesday, and then top 90-degrees for the first time this year on Wednesday. That's expected to release some more significant runoff from snowmelt, with rivers and streams experiencing more high water this week. 

The heat wave won't last however. By the second half of the week, thunderstorms will develop and weekend highs are only expected to be in the upper 50s with showers Saturday and Sunday. 


Weather change should help MT air quality

Helena was the only place showing "unhealthy" air Wednesday afternoon(MISSOULA)- A combination of early morning fog and afternoon haze that's been occurring across Western Montana should be coming to an end, as an incoming system helps to end inversions that were setting up over the valleys. 

Tuesday, warmer air aloft was beginning to trap smoke and other particulates in the valley floors, beginning to create air quality that was unhealthy for young children, the elderly and people with respiratory problems. 

But by mid-day Wednesday, Montana DEQ monitors were only showing air quality problems in the Helena valley. Most other locations, including the Missoula and Bitterroot Valleys, and Northwest Montana were showing "moderate" air quality. 

With the forecast for a return to mix rain and snow Thursday it's expected slick driving conditions will be more of a problem than air quality for the remainder of the week.


Inversions returning to Western MT valleys 

(MISSOULA)- The fresh air was nice while it lasted. 

However, the return of a ridge of high pressure is already bringing a return of inversions to the valleys of Western Montana. 

Inversions are created in the Northern Rockies when warmer air is present at higher elevations, trapping colder air, and particulates from wood stoves and other sources at the surface. There have already been several episodes where air quality dropped this winter, and forecasters are expecting those conditions to return going into this weekend. 

The Missoula, Bitterroot, Mission, Flathead and Helena valleys are especially susceptible to these developing conditions. Montana DEQ reports most air quality was still "moderate" as of Thursday morning, although Seeley Lake had already seen some readings in the "unhealthy" range, which causes problems for people with repiratory conditions.  


Snow showers persist across Montana

View from Glacier National Park this morning (MISSOULA)- Although winter continues its grip on the Treasure State, conditions are proving to be a lot calmer, and warmer that much of the season so far. 

The National Weather Service was reporting scattered snow across the region again Tuesday morning, with most of the concentrated snow over parts of Southwest Montana. Drivers were encountering new snow, with some areas of blowing and drifting snow, on Monida Pass, Bozeman Pass and other main highways this morning. 

However, only light snow showers were hitting much of Western Central and Northwest Montana and accumulations are expected to continue to be light through today and into Wednesday.

Best of all, temperatures have moderated. Most areas will see highs continue in the mid 20s to low 30s over the next several days, with the coldest lows hitting the single digits, especially later in the week.