Oct 26, 2013 12:20 AM by Meteorologist Mike Rawlins
Montana's first major winter storm of the season will arrive this weekend and the STORMTracker Weather Team is keeping you prepared.
Mike, Matt and Claire will be working around the clock in the coming days to make sure you're getting the most accurate forecast. New data will be pouring in every few hours and it's our goal to make sure you know what to expect.
Winter Storm Watches are in effect for the majority of central Montana from Sunday through Tuesday morning. This watch means the potential exists for a significant snowfall that could major impacts on travelers and outdoor recreational activities. We expect to see Winter Storm Warnings and/or Winter Weather Advisories issued in the next 24 hours.
As we've said all along, it's extremely difficult to predict exact snowfall amounts for specific locations. However, computer forecast models can assist with that task. Here's our Tru Vu Snowfall Forecast for Sunday through early Tuesday:
In general, 4-8" of snow is expected at lower elevations and in the valley areas. As much as 10-20" of snow are expected in the mountains. Significant snowfall amounts are concerning, especially for those heading into the mountains for the opening weekend of hunting season. If you are traveling up to the higher elevations, be prepared for rapidly changing conditions on Sunday.
This storm will arrive on Sunday. First, a strong cold front will move through the state during the morning and early afternoon. Behind it, wind speeds will increase and colder air will start moving in. There may be a brief period of rain as the precipitation initially develops, but we should see a transition over to all snow very quickly by evening. With the initial rain and some melting of the snow at first due to warm ground temperatures, a layer of ice may form Sunday night and early Tuesday. Drivers should be prepared for winter driving conditions overnight and through Monday.
Here's how our Tru Vu Forecast model handles the timing of this winter storm:
Most of the snow will fall Sunday night and early Monday, with Monday morning's commute being the worst. Snow will taper off late Monday and Monday evening as the system begins to move away. However, gusty winds near 30-40mph will create near-blizzard conditions at times, limiting visibilities and making travel even more difficult. In addition, the heavy snow may lead to tree damage and power outages.
Very cold air will accompany this storm, dropping temperatures into the teens. Highs on Monday will struggle to reach the middle 20's in some locations and wind chill values will dip to near 0° at times thanks to the strong winds. This is what our Tru Vu Feels Like Temp Forecast model spits out for wind chill values at 6pm Monday:
Some uncertainty remains as to the final snowfall amounts due to inconsistency within the forecast models. We urge you to keep watching STORMTracker Weather over the weekend for future updates and possible changes to the forecast.
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