The STORMTracker Weather Team says a major storm system is on track to deliver heavy snow and significant rain to Montana.
Cooler air is already spilling south out of Canada and temperatures will get even colder on Thursday and Friday.
This storm is expected to be the beginning of the end of fire season across the state.
Showers will begin developing on Thursday morning, becoming widespread by late Thursday.
Most of the state will experience periods of rain beginning Thursday evening and continuing through Saturday morning.
As colder air settles in on Thursday night, the rain will change to snow in the mountains.
Snow levels are expected to drop down to near 5000 feet by early Friday morning, resulting in accumulating snow for some mountain passes.
Winter Weather Advisories have been hoisted for the mountains of central Montana in anticipation of winter driving conditions through Saturday.
The snow is expected to cause problems for those attempting to drive into the backcountry, and anyone venturing into the higher elevations should be prepared for cold, raw conditions.
Rain and snow are expected through Saturday morning with everything tapering off from west to east on Saturday afternoon.
With temperatures falling into the middle 30s at lower elevations on Saturday morning, a brief period of a rain-snow mix will be possible at lower elevations, including Great Falls and Lewistown.
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STORMTracker meteorologist Mike Rawlins says this storm will drop the most rain the state has received in several months.
Most places are expected to pick up 1-2" of rain across central and southern Montana. The Hi-Line, along Highway 2, is expected to pick up .50-1" of rain.
Some locally higher amounts of more than 3" of rain will be possible, especially in favored upslope areas near mountains across central and southern parts of the state.
Heavy snow is also a concern, especially above pass level.
1-3" of snow is expected in the passes, but above the passes, 1-2 feet of snow could fall through Saturday.
Even though some snow may mix in at lower elevations early Saturday morning, accumulation is unlikely.
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