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Blizzard-like conditions possible Friday night into Saturday afternoon

Wind and snow will reduce visibility to less than a quarter mile at times.
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Posted at 3:51 PM, Oct 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-23 17:51:55-04

MISSOULA — Winter Storm Warnings and Winter Weather Advisories remain in place for Western Montana tonight through Saturday afternoon.

We already have the set up of a cooler air mass over us thanks to Wednesday’s arctic air moving through.

Now we are adding in abundant amounts of moisture, so this combination creates snowfall (heavy at times) throughout our area over several hours.

Here is a break down of our winter storm timing, location, and most importantly, impacts.

Most importantly IMPACTS:

During this winter storm, large amounts of snow will fall (even for a storm that would occur in the middle of winter).

ROADS:

Roadways will be slick with icy and snowy roads already being reported across Western Montana Friday.

These roads remain slick through Saturday afternoon and possibly into Sunday for shaded areas.

Wind picks up Saturday morning and blows falling snow and ground snow across roadways reducing visibility.

***Blizzard like-conditions are possible in Kalispell and Missoula Friday late night- Saturday mid afternoon due to visibility being reduced to less than half a mile at times.

POWER OUTAGES:

Wind will pick up Saturday night blow around snow-covered trees.

Many trees have not completely lost all their leaves, so this holds extra weight and is extra stress on branches.

Branches under extra weight and wind stress could snap and fall on power lines- especially across West-Central Montana and the Flathead Valley.

Very cold air is on the way, so make sure you have a backup plan to stay warm in case the power goes out.

FRIGID COLD:

Snow moves out later Saturday but arctic air moves in. Highs stay in the mid to low 20s and lows drop to the single digits and negatives.

Wind chill values are likely to drop to subzero throughout these overnight hours Saturday night and Sunday night.

*Hunters on Saturday morning will be dealing with wind, snow, and cold air.

*Hunters out after the snow stops will be dealing with frigid (record-breaking) low temperatures.

SNOW AND WIND:

Friday afternoon-

Snow falls through the I-90 corridor into northwest Montana.

Snow will accumulate quickly even with light-moderate snowfall expected during this early afternoon period.

Friday night-

Light snow will continue to fall across northwest Montana.

The heaviest and most intense amounts of snow will fall Friday night into early Saturday morning (9 PM through the midnight hour).

This intense line of snow will occur along the I-90/HWY-200 corridor in West-Central Montana and through the northern Bitterroot Valley and into northern parts of the Mission Valley.

During this time, roads will fill with snow quickly.

There will be times were roadways are very difficult to see due to the rapid amounts of accumulation of snow on roadways and the lack of visibility due to falling snow.

Saturday morning-

During the early hours as hunters get up to get ready for opening day, there are some things you will want to know before you head out.

Snow will still be falling during this time.

Again, snow intensity stays higher during the early morning hours and tappers off through the late morning.

At this point, most roads will have slick spots and will be covered with ice.

On top of that, wind picks up before sunrise on Saturday morning.

Gusts will be ranging from 25-40 MPH, so snow will be falling and blowing.

This will reduce visibility, and any snow on the ground will also be blowing across roadways adding to even more reduced visibility.

At times, blizzard-like conditions are possible.

Visibility will be reduced to half a mile or less during these early Saturday hours.

Saturday night-

Wind and snow subside, but arctic air moves in.

Lows Saturday night and Sunday night drop to near- or below record-breaking temperatures.

Single digit lows are expected in the lowest elevations, and upper elevations are likely to see subzero lows these two nights.