MISSOULA — If the forecast for this weekend stays accurate and Western Montana gets hit with a cold front, it won’t be the first time we’ve seen an abrupt turn to winter this early.
In fact, the same weather pattern happened almost ten years ago to the day.
In September of 2009, there was a promise of nice weather, but then a few days into October showed us otherwise.
A strong push of Arctic air, combined with a push of Pacific moisture dumped heavy, wet snow across the Northern Rockies. Potomac received some of the heaviest snow in the valleys, with 8-inches coating the Upper Blackfoot.
Nearly every part of the state received anywhere from 4-to-6 inches of snow, with more than a foot falling in the higher elevations.
And then the outflow winds kicked in, which caused temperatures to plummet. Missoula dropped to just 8-degrees, and Kalispell set an all-time low of just 2-degrees on October 12th. Polebridge hit 13-below.
The change in weather was so abrupt that leaves didn’t even have a chance to turn.
And the cold snap's timing couldn't have been worse. The abrupt weather expanded the outbreak of the H1N1 flu virus, which created big lines for vaccinations for the next several weeks.
This was also the year it was so cold that the University of Montana Homecoming parade was nearly canceled.
With wind chills well below zero, many entries pulled out, but a few hardy souls pressed on, marching before a much smaller crowd, proving once again that Montanans might complain, but they’ll still carry-on in the cold.