GREAT FALLS — The National Weather Service is forecasting a potentially "historic" winter storm in terms of September snow this weekend.
At higher elevations and along parts of the Rocky Mountain Front, anywhere from one to three feet of snow is expected, beginning late Friday and extending into Sunday. At lower elevations, including Great Falls, snow totals are expected to range anywhere from five inches to 12 inches.
Glacier National Park officials say that visitors are discouraged from embarking on extended hikes, should dress for snow and freezing temperatures, and plan to be self-sufficient. They anticipate that Two Medicine Road, Many Glacier Road, and a large portion of Going-To-The-Sun Road will be closed for the duration of the storm. Logan Pass Visitor Center is likely closed for the season. Apgar and St. Mary Visitor Centers are anticipated to continue operating. Many Glacier and Two Medicine Campgrounds are also closed in advance of the storm. Some campgrounds west of the Continental Divide are still open including Apgar Campground and primitive camping in the North Fork, weather dependent.
The storm is expected to bring heavy snowfall and blowing snow, record cold temperatures, and strong winds. The heavy snow is likely to cause tree damage, which in turn may cause power line damage and electric outages.
NorthWestern Energy said in a press release on Friday that it is adjusting staffing in anticipation of the storm. They encourage customers to report outages and damaged and downed power lines by calling 888-467-2669 or visiting the online reporting form by clicking here.
They say every report helps crews determine how widespread an outage is, and helps them diagnose the potential scale and cause of the outage. Once the cause and impact of a power outage is diagnosed, their Distribution Dispatch Center calls in crews and dispatches them to repair any damaged equipment and get the power flowing again.
WINTER WEATHER RESOURCES:
- STORMTracker Weather page
- Live interactive radar
- STORMTracker on Facebook
- Montana webcams (MDT site)
- Road Conditions (MDT site)
Winter storm safety tips from NorthWestern Energy:
· Non-electric, unvented space heaters can be a hazard. Use them only in well-ventilated areas.
· If you use an electric generator, plug appliances directly into it. Never plug a generator directly into your home's electrical wiring.
· Disconnect or turn off appliances you were using when the power went off. Leave one light on to tell you when service is restored.
· Avoid opening refrigerators or freezers. Food will stay frozen in a fully loaded freezer for 36 to 48 hours if the door is closed. In a half-full freezer, food will keep 24 hours.
· Stock up on non-perishable foods, heating fuel and medications.
· Fill your bathtub and spare containers with water in case your electric water pump or the local water system goes out.
· Have a flashlight, a battery-powered radio and fresh batteries handy.
· Prepare older family members, friends or neighbors who live alone for the weather.
· NorthWestern Energy reminds customers to make sure natural gas meters, as well as furnace and appliance vents, are free from snow and ice. Blocked vents could result in a loss of heat or buildup of deadly carbon monoxide in homes and other structures. Some furnace vents may be located on roofs.
· Safety starts with you, don’t take the risk of going into bad weather.
· NorthWestern Energy posts updates on outages on Facebook and Twitter, (@NWEinfo), and on the NorthWestern Energy Outage Map, http://www.northwesternenergy.com/safety/outage-safety/outage-mapping [northwesternenergy.com], where you can sign up for text updates on an outage.
· Use a flashlight. Avoid candles because of the fire risk.
· Never use wet or damp electrical items
NorthWestern Energy workers, often out in dangerous weather conditions, work to restore power to your home or business as quickly, efficiently and as safely as possible.
If you have any questions, call the NorthWestern Energy Montana Customer Service line, 888-467-2669