MISSOULA — The transition has begun. The nice part was that we had plenty of warning that big weather changes were on the way, and it was certainly nice to get an extended period of sunshine and highs well in the 70s for the first third of October. The next few days will bring good chances of rain and mountain snow, with cooler temperatures that look like they’re around to stay.
Rain will spread across the valleys of western Montana Saturday afternoon and evening. Due to downsloping winds, the Missoula Valley and Bitterroot Valley will not see much rain in the rain gauge, but the odds of seeing a light shower or two is high. Winds will also be strong out of the southwest ahead of the cold front, shifting to the northwest behind the front. A Lake Wind Advisory is in effect for the Flathead and Mission valley near Flathead Lake, along with Flathead Lake itself through Midnight Saturday, as winds are expected to gust to 30 to 40 miles per hour creating 1 to 3-foot waves. Snow levels will drop to around 5,000 feet, creating tricky driving conditions for Lolo and Lost Trail passes during the evening and overnight hours. If you’re heading into the backcountry at higher altitudes, be prepared for cold, windy, and snowy conditions.
Sunday will be a very cool day with a strong breeze out of the northwest. Early day rain will give way to scattered showers. We can expect more clouds than sun with highs ranging from the upper 40s to lower 50s.
Another round of rain will enter the region on Sunday evening and stick around for Monday. This system has more moisture than the round of rain expected late Saturday and Saturday night, so the valleys of western Montana can expect an extended period of chilly, wet conditions. The higher elevations, including pass levels will experience another round of snow. Monday highs will reach the upper 40s to lower 50s.
Tuesday will bring scattered showers under a mostly cloudy to cloudy sky with highs mainly in the lower 50s.
Wednesday through Friday will be drier. We’ll see mostly to partly sunny conditions with highs in the middle 50s on Wednesday, middle to upper 50s on Thursday, and middle 50s to lower 60s on Friday.
Have a wonderful Sunday!