MISSOULA - Several variables are at play with the wintry system hitting western Montana today.
First, light snow is expected to hit first. Some areas have seen a dusting overnight, but snow showers will become more widespread through the morning hours.
Generally, the snow will scatter on and off throughout the day, with most valleys seeing totals of less than an inch by tonight.
Showers do look more consistent in Northwest Montana throughout the day.
A few areas are under a Winter Weather Advisory, mainly Lookout Pass, Lolo Pass, and Marias Pass — which was issued with heavier snow totals in mind.
Road conditions will be riskier in those locations today and tomorrow.
Following the snow, a cold front will sweep from the northwest into the southeast of Montana in the afternoon hours.
The front may increase snowfall behind it, but it will also track in gusty winds.
Models are showing the winds hitting between 20-40 mph in the afternoon and evening hours today. T
he winds will stick around for Friday and then calm down over the weekend.
The front itself will impact temperatures later tonight. Highs today are still forecasted to hit in the upper 30s.
Daytime temperatures will drop only a few degrees for Friday and Saturday.
With all of these potential variables in the forecast, snow totals may play out differently than the models depict.