Spring snow storm heads for Montana!

We are getting close to the weekend, so that means things start to get messy as far as our weather goes! Computer models are still trying to figure out the track of the storm and the temperatures to determine if we get rain or snow.

Ben Schott at the Great Falls National Weather Service this morning summed up the situation for us very well and here is his statement to the media this morning.

“Currently we have a winter storm watch for the Rocky Mountain Front beginning on Saturday morning. This area looks to be on track to receive heavy snow Saturday through Sunday, and a winter storm warning will likely be issued later today or tonight for this region. Total snow accumulations of 8 to 15 inches look reasonable for this region. Additionally, areas of blowing and drifting snow can be expected.

Further East, things are much more uncertain. The change over time from rain to snow and the elevation at which snow is expected to fall remain very uncertain. If the rain changes to snow by mid afternoon Saturday and sticks, snow accumulations in the 6 to 10 inch range will be possible.
However, if the rain does not change over to snow until Saturday evening, total snow accumulations might only range from 1 to 3 inches, with slightly higher amounts in the Little Belt, Bears Paw, Big Snowy, and Judith Mountains.

At this time, the winter storm watch is likely to remain in place over much of Central Montana until things become a bit more certain and there is more confidence in the forecast.

However, in any case/solution that develops, all models indicate that widespread liquid amounts of 0.30 to 0.60 inches are likely to fall over much of the region, with the rain changing to snow at all locations sometime on Saturday night. With widespread temperatures falling into the 20s by Sunday morning, wet roadway surfaces are likely to freeze, especially between 3 am Sunday and 9 am Sunday morning.”

That is a good summary of what is headed our way for the first weekend in April. The snapshot below shows us a good look at the parts of the state that should be concerned. Even as I prepared this the Rocky Mountain Front was placed under a winter storm warning!

Tanja Fransen from the National Weather Service Office in Glasgow has also issued a statement regarding that part of the state this weekend.

“Although they’ve tried their best to keep this storm away, the forecasters are saying it doesn’t look like northeast Montana will be spared this upcoming storm. The heaviest snow from the event will actually be in southern Saskatchewan, with over 10″ of snow forecast. But, we will still see some significant snowfall in the areas north of Fort Peck Lake and the Missouri River, with 3-7″ of snowfall possible, and even 6-12″ of snow from Opheim to Lustre east and northward. (Plentywood!) The area to the south of the lake and the Missouri River will see up to 5 inches of new snow.

The easterly winds on Saturday still look like they’ll be in the 15-30 mph range with gusts to 40 mph possible in some areas, mainly Highway 2 and northward. Those winds will switch around to the north/northwest starting along the Canadian border around midnight Saturday into Sunday, and for all of northeast Montana by 6 am Sunday. We could see speeds of 20 to 30 with gusts to 50 mph possible.

Major impacts:
1. Blizzard/near Blizzard conditions.
2. Roads, blowing and drifting. There’s been a lot of information in the media about people getting to town today and tomorrow before late afternoon and stocking up on supplies in anticipation of getting drifted in again. Hopefully people are listening.
2. Newborn livestock. We’ve had lots of phone calls from concerned ranchers. Remember, the Cold Advisory for Newborn Livestock system is linked at the top of our website (severe/extreme conditions begin noon-6 pm Saturday): http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/ggw/”

Overnight mostly cloudy in Great Falls with the a 40% chance of rain and snow with little accumulation expected and a low of 33.

Saturday rain and snow mixed with a high in the mid 40’s. Not a lot of accumulation during the day, but by evening we see snow likely as temperatures drop into the 20’s. Anywhere from 2″-4″ could fall overnight and then continue Sunday with 1″-3″ more snow. High around 37.

Monday partly sunny and ten degrees warmer with a high in the upper 40’s.

The 40’s hang around for the rest of the week after our weekend cool down!

Have a good weekend and watch our website for the latest storm information!

Fred

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