Winter Weather Advisory Issued for Central Montana: Snow Showers and Low Temperatures

Bryan Dijkhuizen

Snow showers and lower temperatures are expected over the area tonight as a fast-moving Alberta clipper storm moves through.

Several inches of new snow is forecast to fall tonight, particularly in the mountains of central and southwest Montana, with seasonably cold temperatures and dry conditions predicted on Friday.

No noteworthy changes have occurred in the overall outlook since the last update. According to the most recent satellite images, a clearing line on the higher clouds is seen from Havre to Ennis, and it is moving rapidly eastward with the passing upper-level ridge axis.

In southern Alberta, a surface low-pressure system emerged, and it is presently starting to move away from the area into eastern Montana. As it does so, it will be followed by a surface front that will pass over North-central Montana late this evening and tomorrow.

In conjunction with the departure of the Alberta clipper system, both the surface and upper level flow swiftly shift northward. Snow is expected to fall tonight across the central Montana highlands and later into the Madison and Gallatin ranges in southwest Montana, according to short-term model predictions that have trended somewhat lower in available moisture.

The Little Belt Mountains, including Highway 89 over Kings Hill and Highway 87 from roughly Armington Junction to Stanford, are still under a Winter Weather Advisory, which is in force until further notice. Small accumulations of snow, as well as potential blowing snow, might create small delays in travel early Friday morning.

Most locations will see temperatures in the 20s tonight, with significantly lower temperatures in the 30s for most places on Friday.

Upper level ridging returns to the Northwest United States on Saturday, with some weak energy moving southeastward into the Northern Plains on Sunday.

This will usher in a return to pleasant but windy weather, with afternoon temperatures hitting the 40s once again for much of the country.

Overall agreement across models and their ensembles for the next week continues to suggest larger-scale ridging migrating offshore to the west, with troughing concentrated over eastern Canada.

Temperatures will be back to seasonal averages by Tuesday of next week, according to ensemble means and current blended model guidance, with just a minor possibility of precipitation in the forecast.

As a result of this pattern opening the door for colder air masses moving south from Canada to potentially make their way as far west as central Montana, and ensemble cluster analysis shows that there is a fairly even split between model camps that show solutions with ridging centered slightly further east or west of the mean.

It seems unlikely that there will be substantial cold or precipitation next week, but there will be more uncertainty in the forecast than usual this week.

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