MISSOULA — Even though temperatures will be running below average, the warmest day of at least the next seven days will be felt this afternoon.
The highs will be in the middle 40s to low 50s with partly to mostly cloudy skies. By tonight our next cold system moves into the Northern Rockies. Rain showers will return to the valleys and snow to the mountains over night Tuesday into Wednesday.
The valleys of northwest Montana will have the best chance to see a rain/snow mix during the day Wednesday. The west-central and southwest Montana valleys will see mostly rain showers Wednesday. By Wednesday night rain is expected to then change over to snow for the Missoula and Bitterroot Valley.
By the time snow clears Thursday morning, expect 2"-to-5" over Lolo, Lost Trail, MacDonald and Homestake passes, around 1" for the Flathead, Mission, Missoula and Bitterroot valleys, and 2"-to-4" in the Seeley and Swan valleys.
The remainder of Thursday will be dry but cold as highs top out only in the 30s.
Friday will start out mostly cloudy with scattered snow showers moving in by Friday afternoon. Snow then looks to become more widespread over night Friday into Saturday. It is still a bit to early to talk snow amounts, however, early model runs are showing 8"-to-12" for all area passes with several inches possible through the valleys.
Along with the snow, potential record cold is expected this weekend as an arctic air mass moves into the northern Rockies. The highs Saturday through Monday will only top out in the 20s with lows dropping into the singe digits. Factor in wind chills, overnight and early morning temperatures may feel as cold as 5º-to-15º below zero.
We will continue to monitor this system and bring updates as we move closer to the weekend.