A weak low-pressure system is making its way through the panhandle of Idaho and approaching the northern Rocky Mountains. This particular low-pressure system and the resulting bands of precipitation are being pushed in our direction by a shortwave trough to the west of Montana.
The chance for any meaningful precipitation accumulation from this system is very low because the whole front is moving at a fairly rapid clip. North-Central Idaho and Northwestern Montana may see a small amount of rain in the lower terrain, and possibly a very minuscule dusting of snow in higher elevations like Lookout and Lolo passes.
The whole system, including the weak cold front, will be through eastern areas of Montana like Glasgow and Glendive by late this morning. A strong upper-level flow will turn in the southwesterly direction over the late afternoon hours today and is closely tailed by yet another Pacific-Driven low-pressure system.
The trough will dig (deepen) over the west coast during the afternoon hours on Saturday. That will swing the gates wide open for precipitation to flow in Idaho and Montana. Precipitation should arrive in southwestern Montana by Saturday evening, with air temperatures remaining fairly high into the early overnight hours. Due to the warm temperatures, most areas will see bands of rain until mid-Sunday morning.
Then, a low-pressure fueled cold front begins to push into the northern Rockies by late Sunday morning. By the afternoon hours, snow levels in Montana will plummet to valley floors.
The areas that should be concerned with possible snow accumulation are those in mountainous areas or higher terrain. Areas situated in valley floors or average elevations will see minimal snowfall, with the greatest danger coming from possible slick driving conditions after the cold front passes. As the front passes, it will bring westerly wind gusts of 25-to-35 mph — mainly Sunday afternoon.
That should be it for cold and snow for most in Montana for at least the next week to two weeks. We will begin a warming and sunnier trend as early as Monday morning at daybreak.
For the first time in quite a while, I can happily inform you that every day during the week next week looks to be mostly sunny to clear. Next week is shaping up to be an incredible week to get outdoors and explore so many of the unique blessings that the treasure state has to offer.
- Trey Tonnessen