MISSOULA — Sunny skies are coming to an end as the sun sets this evening.
Significant changes are on the way for Montana Friday and Saturday.
Thursday night and Friday morning a cold front will sweep through the northwest.
This will bring light snow to valleys and heavy snow to the Divide during the early morning hours of Friday.
Snow will continue shifting to the south as the cold front moves through west-central and southwest Montana by Friday afternoon and evening.
Widespread snow will be seen by all of our area Friday night, but we are also tracking other impacts to the area with this system.
High wind will blow and drift snow creating near-zero visibility at times- especially for the northwest.
Gusts up to 45-50 MPH are possible for the northwest. Isolated power outages will be possible.
Gusts up to 30-45 MPH are possible in west-central and southwest areas. Spotty power outages will be possible- especially in heavily-treed areas.
Gusts will also make wind chill values dive well-below zero.
Actual temperatures will be in the teens and low 20s on Saturday, so with high wind gusts, it could be feeling more like 20-40 below zero in the northwest corner of the state. This very cold temperatures will be a danger to newborn livestock.
Also keep in mind that with power outages possible Friday and Saturday morning, it will be a good idea to have a backup heat source.
Snow totals will vary through the northwest with around 3-5” expected in valleys and closer to 5-8” in upper elevations. These all vary according to location of Winter Weather Advisory and Winter Storm Warning alert areas which you kind find a list of here.
For areas outside these winter weather alerts, 1-3” are possible in valleys (Missoula and Bitterroot valleys), while closer to 2-4” are possible in mountains.
Do prepare for slick roadways across ALL of Western Montana no matter the snow amounts expected. 1” or 5” still mean icy and snowy roads can develop.
This winter system will move out on Saturday afternoon, so high wind and snow will finally start to move out, too. Colder temperatures do remain in the forecast through early next week though.