***CAUTION*** WInter storm system update - February 7, 2018 (slideshow 2)
Synopsis: A large area of Pacific moisture will move over the mountains from the west and into the region. This will combine with a near stationary front over central and eastern Montana, which will lead to potentially heavy snowfall over a broad area covering much of the region. A strong arctic high pressure from southern Saskatchewan/Manitoba will also try to push its way into the region from the northeast, which will lead to holding the eastward extent of the snowfall back some to the west.
Some main points:
- Main snowfall expected over a 36 hour period beginning tomorrow evening
- Significant impacts to travel will be likely, especially with the state wrestling tournament in Billings and the state swim meet in Great Falls this weekend.
- The greatest snowfall accumulations will be likely in Phillips, Petroleum and Garfield counties, with less to the north and east.
Timing: Snow is expected to start tomorrow evening and generally end across the region by Friday morning. The greatest snowfall rates are expected to fall between midnight on Thursday and the early evening hours on Thursday.
Affected areas: Most of the eastern half of the state of Montana will be affected by significant snowfall. As for the northeast, accumulating snowfall is likely for much of the region, with the greatest accumulations in Phillips, Petroleum and Garfield counties, and the least accumulations expected in Daniels, Sheridan, Roosevelt and Richland counties.
Travel: Expect travel to be extremely difficult across much of the region as snowfall is expected to quickly cover roadways and significantly reduce visibility. The main routes of travel from the region to Great Falls and Billings are expected to be especially hard hit, causing potentially significant impacts for those traveling to the state wrestling or swim meets. As such, special care and consideration must be given to travel plans on Thursday if heading west or south.
Snow Amounts: Generally the snow is expected to fall along a NW-SE line, with the lower amounts (less than 1 inch of accumulation) in the northeast corner of the region, and increasing to the south and west.
- Moderate to heavy snowfall that will impact much of the region, with lower accumulations in the northeast and greater accumulations in the southwest.
- Significant travel impacts along main routes to Billings (Hwy 191/87, Hwy 200, I-94) and Great Falls (Hwy 2 west of Glasgow, Hwy 87) on Thursday
- Exact snowfall amounts, especially along a NE-SW line extending from far northern Phillips County through Wibaux County, due to the uncertainty with the ability of the snow to push through the region from the southwest against the high pressure trying to also push into the region from the northeast.