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STORMTracker Weather

Jan 23, 2013 6:04 PM by Meteorologist Mike Rawlins

Eyeing a weekend storm that could bring accumulating snow

It wouldn't be much, but I am keeping an eye on the next storm system that could dump snow on the Treasure State.

It's no secret we use a variety of computer forecast models each day to put together an accurate forecast.

These models work in a variety of different ways and all use slightly different parameters to render out a forecast.

Two medium range models we use on a daily basis are coming up with slightly different solutions for a storm system that will arrive late this weekend.

I'll start with the GFS (Global Forecast System) model, which is operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

GFS Model

This particular model indicates an area of low pressure at the surface will scoot along the Montana/Wyoming border late Sunday.

Light snow would then develop from southwest Montana into north central Montana.

Upslope winds, or winds pushed upward by the topography, would develop and are a favorable setup for accumulating snow in north central Montana.

Using the GFS output for snowfall through Sunday into Monday, you can see a general 1-3 inch snowfall for most locations east of the Rockies.

GFS Model

However, another trustworthy model has a slightly different idea of how the weekend system will play out.

The ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts) model still brings a surface low through southern Montana, but not until Monday.

It also shows a northwesterly wind flow developing off the Rockies, which would cut down on snow totals to the east.

It's important to note this model still develops a band of snow, but farther east than the GFS solution.

ECMWF Model

At this time, the ECMWF model is coming up with lower snowfall amounts for Big Sky Country, taking most of the dynamics with this system farther south.

ECMWF Model

I'm confident we will see colder air moving in behind the front and snow will fall on parts of the state, but it's still too early to determine where the heaviest snow will accumulate.

Stay with STORMTracker Weather for continuous coverage of Montana's weather.

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