MISSOULA — A snowy weather pattern will set up to end the week and continue into the weekend with several storm systems bringing accumulating snow back to the valleys.
During the day Thursday expect most of the snow to fall in the mountains and the Seeley/Swan Valley. All other valley locations may see a few light snow showers, however, most of these will melt on contact.
Thursday night into Friday morning a significant push of moisture will bring widespread accumulating snow to all of western Montana.
Expect winter driving over mountain passes with 5"-to-10" possible. Lookout Pass will see 8"-to-12". The Seeley Lake/Swan Lake areas will see around 5"-to-8". All other valley locations across western Montana will have the chance to see accumulating snow fall of 1"-to-3" with some locally higher amounts possible.
Snow will continue through the weekend with several opportunities to see accumulating snow in the valleys Saturday - Sunday. The hardest hit locations will be the Seeley/Swan Region with snow potentially approaching 2 feet by Monday morning!
Now lets talk temperatures. Highs will be in the low to mid 30s Thursday and mid 30s to low 40s Friday.
By the weekend, and as we have been talking about all week, how cold western Montana gets will greatly rely on how far west across the divide the arctic front can travel. Models have been back and forth all week and they are still struggling to get a handle on this cold air.
Models have backed off on the timing of the cold air overnight, now not bringing the coldest temperatures into northwest Montana until Sunday. But once it arrives, temperatures drop fast!
This cold air will then track south but modify and warm as it does. Below is a look at the weekend forecast for Kalispell, Missoula and Hamilton to get an idea of temperatures.
Kalispell: Saturday- 32°. Sunday- 16°
Missoula: Saturday- 37°. Sunday- 28°
Hamilton: Saturday- 38°. Sunday- 31°
Forecasting these temperatures has been quite the process all week, and very well could change again depending on what that cold air east of the divide does. We'll continue to update as we move through the next few days.