Snow and Frustration; Thursday Commute Looks Tough for Western Montana
If Wednesday's drive home is any indication, Thursday's commute could be a rough one across Western Montana, with more snow expected in the forecast.
It's all due to a strong surge of warm moisture pushing into the Northern Rockies from the west, delivering what the National Weather Service forecasters are calling "significant snow". And because of the remaining Arctic air lingering from Wednesday morning, that's creating the perfect scenario for snow to fall deep into the valleys.
The snow started by early afternoon, leading to a chaotic commute Wednesday evening, as drivers slowed down to cope with the wet, persistent snow. That's the worst kind of driving conditions in Western Montana.
Montana Highway Patrol troopers and other agencies were kept scrambling by a series of non-injury crashes and slide-offs that snarled traffic on Highway 93 and Interstate 90. The commuting rush into the Bitterroot was especially problematic, with a backup at one point that started at the Southgate Mall and extended all the way to Lolo, with the slowdown even continuing south to Florence.
That had a ripple effect across the city, with traffic also at a crawl on Reserve all the way north to the Broadway overpass and along West Broadway a long distance from the Russell Street intersection.
However, by 6 pm the volume started to ease in the city, although traffic continued slowly through the "S" curves into the Bitterroot past 7 pm. I-90 west was also difficult with chains required for trucks over Lookout Pass.
While snow showers started to ease, the outlook is for more snow to move in overnight and continue, heavy at times, right during the morning commute. Conditions should improve by late morning, with winter weather advisories and storm warnings coming to an end.