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Weather Forecasters Prediction Is “Smack Dab in the Middle”

Lolo Pass
Photo courtesy of Montana DOT

Every morning when I get to the office and we have threatening weather conditions, like we’ve had the past couple of days, I go read the NOAA WMT Area Forecast Discussion.

It’s a fairly involved description on meteorological conditions and what they’ll cause. Most of the time they’re fairly dull but today’s’ discussion was sort of entertaining and very descriptive;

“TODAY AN ARCTIC AIR MASS WILL GRADUALLY WORK ITS WAY SOUTH ACROSS NORTHWEST MONTANA INTO WEST CENTRAL MONTANA. THERE IS HIGH CONFIDENCE THAT THE ARCTIC WILL NOW MAKE IT INTO THE MISSOULA VALLEY LATE THIS MORNING OR DURING THE AFTERNOON AND SLOWLY FILL THE VALLEY WITH RELATIVELY COLDER AND DRIER AIR. MEANWHILE ABUNDANT PACIFIC MOISTURE WILL CONTINUE TO INCREASE ACROSS THE NORTHERN ROCKIES REGION TODAY SETTING UP THE CLASSIC BATTLE BETWEEN THE RELATIVELY WARM MOIST AIR AND THE COLDER DRIER AIR MASS OF THE ARCTIC. THE BATTLE GROUND SET WILL BE SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDLE OF WESTERN MONTANA…INCLUDING THE MISSOULA…NORTHERN BITTERROOT AND FAR SOUTHERN MISSION VALLEYS ALONG WITH THE SEELEY/SWAN/POTOMAC AND MUCH OF THE LOWER CLARK FOR REGION. THESE AREAS AND THE SURROUNDING MOUNTAINS WILL BE SUBJECT TO THE STRONGEST FORCING AND THUS HEAVIEST SNOWFALL OVER THE NEXT THIRTY-SIX HOURS. WIDESPREAD VALLEY ACCUMULATIONS OF 8 TO 12 INCHES ARE EXPECTED IN THESE AREAS WITH SOME LOCATIONS…SUCH AS THE SEELEY LAKE AREA…RECEIVING UPWARDS OF 20 INCHES BY THURSDAY AFTERNOON. THE SURROUNDING MOUNTAINS WILL RECEIVE AT LEAST TWICE THOSE AMOUNTS WHICH WILL MAKE TRAVEL OVER EVARO HILL…LOLO AND LOOKOUT PASSES EXTREMELY DIFFICULT AND DANGEROUS AT TIMES. IN ADDITION TO THE HEAVY SNOWFALL…STRONG WESTERLY WINDS WILL PRODUCE BLOWING AND SIGNIFICANT DRIFTING OF SNOW ACROSS THE MOUNTAINS AND OVER PASSES WHICH COULD RESULT IN NEAR BLIZZARD CONDITIONS AT TIMES.”

It’s not often you see “smack dab” used in a discussion like the above.

The winter storm is expected to linger in the Mssoula area through Thursday. For more information on road conditions and impending weather check out the information below.

 

Check out photos of road conditions provided by Montana Department of Transportation.

Photos of Lookout Pass

Photos of Lolo Pass

Photos of Lost Trail Pass

Photos of Rogers Pass

Photos of Homestake Pass

 

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