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Entries in Montana weather (79)


Return to winter weather this week

Blue skies come to an end this week- Dennis Bragg photo(MISSOULA)- After nearly three solid weeks of clear, dry weather across Western Montana, forecasters say one of the best chances of widespread snow will move across the region starting Tuesday night. 

While there have been storms that have hit areas along the Divide, and across Eastern Montana as recently as this weekend, more significant snow has been a rare thing west of the Divide in January. However, the National Weather Service says that's going to change, with a strong system expected to dump more than a foot of snow at the higher elevations. 

In Northwest Montana, NWS forecasters say the valleys will see a mix of snow and freezing rain, and with dropping temperatures that could create some hazardous driving conditions into Wednesday morning. Moderate snow is expected over Marias Pass, where up to a foot of snow could fall, combined with high winds. Several inches of snow are possible in the valleys through Wednesday evening. 

In West Central Montana and Southwest Montana freezing rain will also hit the valleys, turning to snow on Wednesday evening. The heaviest snow will be in the passes with 12-16" possible on Lolo Pass, and a foot on Lost Trail Pass. Additional snow will fall on MacDonald and Rogers passes, as well as Deer Lodge, Georgetown Lake and Butte. 


2013 Stevensville's driest in almost 80-years

The Bitterroot River reached some of its lowest levels in decades last summer(STEVENSVILLE)- Everyone in the Bitterroot knew last summer was exceptionally dry. But now a check of the weather records shows it was the driest in Stevesville in nearly 80-years.

A fairly mild winter, followed by a dry spell in the spring and more dry conditions in the summer and fall created one of the driest years in recent memory in the Bitterroot. 

The Bitterroot River was a perfect indicator of the dry spell, reaching one of the lowest levels in decades. 

And now the National Weather Service has confirmed it wasn't just our imagination. A check of the records shows it 2013 was the driest year in Stevensville in 78-years, with records going all the way back to 1911. Stevensville only received 8.33-inches of rain this past year, the lowest amount since 7.4-inches in 1931. 

It was much the same in the southern Bitterroot. NWS says Hamilton had just over 9-inches of rain, the smallest amount since 1966. 

Traditionally the Bitterroot would see an average of just over 12-inches of rain per year.


Back to the cold for Montana's weather

Clouds began building over Glacier National Park Tuesday afternoon- GNP photo(MISSOULA)- It was nice while it lasted. 

But forecasters with the National Weather Service say a welcome dip into warm temperatures across Montana will come to an end Wednesday as another Arctic cold front pushed into the Northern Rockies from Canada. 

Temperatures the past three days have been far above average. Tuesday's highs climbed into the 50s in many areas. Holter Dam was the warmest at 58-degrees, while Butte set a record high temperature for this date of 53-degrees, tying the mark from 1980. One of the automatated weather stations in Hamilton even hit an unofficial high of 61-degrees, but that mark wasn't verified. 

However, by Tuesday evening temperatures were already starting to drop, and the National Weather Service has issued watches and warnings for winter weather in most areas of the state. Northwest Montana, along the Divide and down the Rocky Mountain Front are expected to see the most impacts from this new storm, witch temperatures dropping into the teens, with high winds and several inches of snow possible. 


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. 


Temps plunge across Montana

Whitefish Mt Resort webcam shows the aftermath of Monday's storm (MISSOULA)- Forecasters are still expecting extremely cold weather to grip most of the Treasure State this week, as cold, Arctic air spills into the Northern Rockies for the first time this year. 

The change back to stormy conditions brought heavy snows to the mountains, and especially Northwest Montana and the Rocky Mountain Front region Monday, with areas of blowing and drifting snow and low visibility. That led to number of accidents, especially in the Flathead, as drivers were forced to cope with the winter driving conditions. 

By the second half of the week, temperatures are expected to plunge below zero, with Great Falls as cold as 15-to-16 degrees below zero and wind chills below that mark, even west of the Divide. Winter Storm Warnings remain posted through Wednesday. 

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