GREAT FALLS — Due to the more than three feet of snow that has fallen since Friday, Browning Public Schools will be closed on Monday.
Public Information Officer James McNeely said the school will be closed to allow emergency crews time to dig out and make entryways and travel for buses safe.
In addition, Blackfeet Community College and Blackfeet Tribal offices will be closed on Monday.
McNeely also says that as of 11 a.m. on Sunday, BIA Route 1 has been closed.
Areas of Glacier County and the Blackfeet Reservation received more than three feet of snow during the weekend storm.
Great Falls got a preliminary 9.7 inches of snow on Saturday, which will set a new daily snowfall record. That number would beat the previous record in 1954 by 3.6 inches.
And by Saturday morning, the town of Choteau was already experiencing downed trees and powerlines, making it dangerous for people on the road.
The potential to be historically significant
While snow in September may sound shocking in some parts of the country, Cabrera says that it is not that uncommon for the area. What is shocking is the amount, he said.
"If the forecast pans out, this would rival or surpass the 1934 winter storm which was for many areas the top early-season snowfall event on record," Cabrera said.
And the storm could bring near blizzard conditions, NWS said. Winds are predicted to gust at 35 to 45 mph on Sunday, Cabrera said. These winds, combined with the snow that is forecast, could lead to whiteout conditions.
"This has the potential to be a historically significant early-season snow event," the National Weather Service in Great Falls said.
The unexpected and destructive
The National Weather Service anticipates that the storm will bring damage as well as surprise.
"Very heavy wet snow and strong winds will lead to downed trees, power outages, and treacherous travel conditions," the weather service said.
With winds this strong and the sudden cold air interacting with the warmer mountain lake water, there is the chance for damaging waves across Flathead Lake.
And given the expected wet nature of the snow, a host of potentially dangerous impacts could result.
Widespread tree damage and downed power lines are possible, resulting in power outages. Agricultural damage could be caused by the record cold temperatures.
Livestock is also at risk and the National Weather Service warns, "make sure livestock and pets also have the essentials that they will need during the storm."
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