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Winter outlook shows a possible sunny side in the future

Posted at 6:34 PM, Sep 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-01 11:20:28-04

MISSOULA — Our weekend winter storm had unleashed all the fury you’d expect to see in December and January, only it came in late September, and that’s what made this a historic event.

Western Montana valley snow totals did not match mid-winter amounts, but it did set September records in some spots.

“Here, in Missoula, we received 1.7" of snow, and that’s the most snow we’ve ever received in the month of September,” Luke Robinson, National Weather Service meteorologist said.

While the Flathead Valley saw little to no snow accumulation, the higher elevations received near record amounts. East of the divide, Choteau, Great Falls, and Cut Bank as well as other places, were measuring snow in feet instead of inches.

Meanwhile, Mother Nature left a path of downed trees and power lines along Flathead Lake north into the valley. Another component of this winter storm is record-breaking minimum high temperatures.

On Sunday, Missoula reached a high of only 36 degrees, 11 degrees colder than the previous Sept. 29 minimum high of 47. Kalispell and Butte also set new record minimum highs. That same record is in jeopardy of falling today, as some areas are struggling to reach the lower 40s.

The good news for those who are wondering if our autumn was only 5 days long, this early winter blast won’t negate the potential of a nice fall.

“An early start to winter doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re going to have a bad winter,” Robinson said. “Right now, it looks like we’re going to be about average.”

In fact, temperatures are expected to recover over the next few days.

“Later this week it looks like we could get up into the mid to upper 50s, and next week we could see at normal temperatures, so when we say below normal, it doesn’t mean that every day is going to be below normal,” Robinson said.

With October average temperatures ranging in the middle 60s to start the month, and lower 50s to end the month, the odds are very high that we still have a good number of nice fall days still to come.