MISSOULA — We are looking at one more afternoon of dry and calm conditions before the big winter system moves into Western Montana.
Skies stay clear overnight into Friday morning, and lows will drop to the mid to low 30s.
Tomorrow afternoon’s highs return to the upper 50s and low 60s, and besides a passing could here and there, expect another day of blue skies.
A cold front drops through late Friday and early Saturday morning.
Highs go from the 60s Friday to the 30s and 40s Saturday.
This colder air mass also brings wind, rain, and snow to the forecast.
Friday night there isn’t expected to be a lot of impacts in the Missoula, Flathead, or Bitterroot Valleys. A quick burst of accumulation is possible in heavier bands of snow.
The snow impacts stay closer to the Divide from areas like Essex and Polebridge, down MT-83, HWY 200 and I-90 east of Missoula, Philipsburg and down to Butte. These areas are under a Winter Storm Watch, but advisories or warnings are likely to replace the watch area tomorrow.
Wind will be an impact across the northwest and west-central Montana starting Saturday morning. We are tracking gusts up to 45-50 MPH.
This means drifting and blowing snow will reduce visibility.
Another wind impact includes isolated power outages in areas that are prone to outages from downed trees (historically MT-83/35, Flathead and Mission Valleys).
Rain and snow move in Friday night and out Saturday afternoon. Wind will continue to gust Saturday morning and afternoon. Colder weather lasts Saturday through Monday.
We return to the 50s by next Tuesday.