Blizzard to slam northern Rockies this weekend
The northern Rocky Mountains are about to get a harsh blow from Mother Nature. A potential blizzard-like storm could shut down roads and knock out power in many high-elevation areas. The National Weather Service (NWS) has already issued a Winter Storm Watch for parts of Montana, mostly along and north of I-90 and west of I-15, where the worst of the storm may hit. However, the Watch may be expanded to include other areas of Montana and/or neighboring states. Shipper may want to plan now in order to get ahead of the storm. According to article from freightwaves.com and its author Nick Austin, Director of Weather Analytics and Senior Meteorologist
SONAR Critical Events: Wednesday, September 25, 11 a.m. EDT
A strong Canadian cold front will likely move through north-central and central Montana on Friday, September 27, lingering over southwestern Montana the next day. During this time, a low pressure center will move southward into the Pacific Northwest, sending plenty of moisture into the northern Rockies. This will likely bring rain showers and mountain snow showers to the region Friday into Friday night, with a slight chance of afternoon thunderstorms.
Temperatures will gradually begin to cool with highs in the 40s and 50s across northwestern Montana by Friday, lows in the mid-20s to mid-30s. The cold air will continue to push south behind the front on Saturday, causing more widespread accumulating snow in the mountains of northwestern Montana, rain in the southwestern valleys, and a mix of rain and snow in the northern plains. The coldest air over the plains will initially be along the Rocky Mountain Front, making that area most likely to see accumulating wet snow on the plains.
The Rocky Mountain Front and adjacent plains are areas of focus for the Winter Storm Watch, which for now is in place from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon, September 29. Total snow accumulations in these areas could reach one to three feet, with locally higher amounts on the tallest peaks. Wind gusts of 40 mph across the Rocky Mountain Front and west over the Continental Divide will create periods of blizzard/white-out conditions. Adding insult to injury – the storm may produce record or near-record cold temperatures in the teens and 20s, along with wind chills of zero to 15° above zero.
The nearby city of Great Falls isn’t in the Winter Storm Watch at this time. However, Jason Anglin, a meteorologist with the NWS in Great Falls, told FreightWaves he expects that city to receive six to eight inches of snow. Anglin also noted that this outlook could change. The historical average three-day total for this time of year is less than half an inch.
Besides treacherous road conditions, this early season storm has the potential to cause other extreme impacts such as widespread loss of electricity due to downed power lines. In addition, widespread significant tree damage is possible with heavy, wet snow and strong winds weighing down trees that have a lot of foliage.
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Weekend #WinterStorm UPDATE: it looks like valley #snow is becoming more likely. Accumulations will be minimal, but for so early in the season, it will be a major impact, along w/all the other impacts we'll see. Suffice to say: this will be a historic storm. #mtwx #idwx pic.twitter.com/yRN6niqeST
— NWS Missoula (@NWSMissoula) September 25, 2019
Source and credits: freightwaves.com // iTrucker / Mario Pawlowski