MISSOULA - The arctic front across northwest Montana will slide south and east today reaching west-central and southwest Montana by tonight.
At the same time, this front will interact with a moist air mass from the Pacific Ocean.
This setup will bring widespread snow and potentially heavy snow this afternoon into Wednesday morning.
Winter Storm Warnings are in place through Wednesday.
Along with the snow, winds will pick up as the front moves through, wind gusts of 30-40 mph will develop for all of western Montana this afternoon and continue into Wednesday.
After the snow comes to an end, bitterly cold temperatures move in for Wednesday and Thursday.
Highs will be below zero or the single digits Wednesday with lows well below zero.
Wednesday night into Thursday will bring some of the coldest temperatures Montana has seen in over 40 years.
Actual temperatures could be 20° to 40° below zero with wind chill values 50° to 60° below zero.
Looking at Friday and into the Christmas weekend, temperatures will begin to warm up as moisture streams in from the Pacific Ocean.
Now normally this set up brings warmer air, and it will, however, with just how cold we will be, it will take a while for these temperatures to warm back up.
For this reason, valleys may stay below freezing through Monday, and with moisture moving in the threat for snow and freezing rain could create very difficult travel during this time.
We'll bring updates as we move closer to this time.