MISSOULA — Winter will make a return to the northern Rockies this weekend as several storm systems bring snow and cold temperatures.
Snow showers Friday morning will come to an end by mid to late morning. Any snow that accumulates in the valleys with this system will start to melt by the afternoon as some sunshine peaks through the clouds and highs warm into the mid to upper 30s.
The break from the snow wont last long as our next system brings more snow to the forecast Saturday, Saturday night and Sunday.
For the mountains, expect snow to steadily pile up through the weekend with very difficult driving expected over those mountain passes. Recent data shows snow totals of 24"-to-30" possible over Lolo and Lookout Passes through Sunday.
Valleys will see most of their accumulating snow Saturday night into Sunday morning with several inches possible during this time frame.
As arctic air spills over the Divide Saturday night, there is a chance for enhanced and heavy snow fall in northwest Montana as the cold air hits the more mild and moist air. For this reason Winter Storm Watches have been issued for the Flathead and Mission valleys, West Glacier Region and Seeley Lake/Potomac Region.
Snow fall of 3"-to-6" will be possible in the Flathead Valley, 6"-to-12" in the West Glacier Region and 8"-to-16" in the Seeley Lake/Potomac Region. West-central and southwest Montana will also have the chance to see steady accumulating snow this weekend, we will continue to watch this and bring updates moving through the weekend.
Snow showers will continue Sunday into Monday with all of western Montana having the chance to see more accumulating snow.
Now lets talk temperatures.
Temperatures look to remain in the 30s Saturday as the arctic air will stay east of the Divide. This air will then spill over the Divide and bring very cold temperatures to northwest Montana Sunday. This cold air will then move south into west-central and southwest Montana by Monday.
To get a better idea of timing, below is a look at temperatures for Kalispell, Missoula and Hamilton.
Kalispell: Saturday- 32°. Sunday- 14°. Monday- 15°
Missoula: Saturday- 36°. Sunday- 26°. Monday- 23°
Hamilton: Saturday- 37°. Sunday- 32°. Monday- 27°
Temperatures will stay cold through the end of next week as this arctic air mass lingers over the northern Rockies.