MISSOULA — Those weather changes that we’ve been anticipating for several days are still on track, with Friday being a transition day to much colder temperatures for western Montana.
A Winter Weather Advisory began at 7 a.m. for the Flathead and Mission valleys as well as the Kootenai/Cabinet Region.
This is when the arctic air mass began entering the region bringing with it very strong, potentially damaging winds from the North/Northwest at 45 to 55 mph in the Flathead Valley. Wind chill values will drop well below the zero mark, as low as -20. Expect 1" to 3" of snow mainly by the early morning hours on Saturday.
The Kootenai/Cabinet Region will see about 5" to 8" of snow with winds exceeding 40 mph. The Potomac and Seeley Lake regions have the potential to receive up to 5" of snow with wind gusts exceeding 35 mph, while the Lower Clark Fork Region will see up to 6" of snow with gusty winds at times.
All of the advisories are set to expire at noon on Saturday.
The West Glacier Region is under a Winter Storm Warning through early afternoon on Saturday. Snow totals will range from 4" to 7" with wind speeds exceeding 45 mph. Wind chill values will be as low as 30 below zero.
For the Missoula and Bitterroot valleys, the cold air, wind, and snow is expected but will not be as dramatic as your neighbors to the north. Expect a mostly cloudy to cloudy day with light snow by the mid to late afternoon hours. The highs will reach the middle to upper 30s.
Winds will increase late in the day and the evening hours as the cold front moves through with wind speeds of up to 40 mph along and behind the front. Snow totals will range from 1" to 2" with wind chill values dropping to near 0 overnight.
The strong, cold winds will continue into Saturday as snow showers diminish. Expect overnight lows in the single digits to mid-teens with highs on Saturday in the lower to middle 20s. Expect a little sunshine later in the day.
Sunday will start very cold with lows in the single digits in most locations. Expect a mix of sun and clouds. The early part of next week will see temperatures slowly moderate under partly cloudy conditions.