'Historic' snowstorm to decimate Montana as state braced for ‘life-threatening’ blizzards

Map of weather warning from National Weather Service on September 25th 2019

Map of weather warning from National Weather Service on September 25th 2019. National Weather Service

"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.

Parts of north-central Montana, including the Rocky Mountain Front and adjacent plains are areas of focus for the Winter Storm Warning, which for now is in place from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon, September 29.

Our weekend winter storm looks to be very, very impactful.

In elaborating on the system, the agency said the storm is developing along a front over the northern Rockies, and it will develop over the northern high plains region before moving east. Jason Anglin, a meteorologist with the NWS in Great Falls, told FreightWaves on September 25 that he was expecting that city to receive six to eight inches of total snow from this storm.

Snow is already beginning to fall in the higher elevations of the northern Rockies and the Washington this morning.

Snow won't start to accumulate in most of the valleys until Saturday night. Lesser amounts are forecast for the lower elevations of the Northwest (see Fig. 3).

The heaviest snow and most extreme conditions are forecast to occur at the weekend across the region.

Meanwhile, high wind and low humidity prompted weather service officials to issue fire danger warnings in central and southeastern Wyoming on Thursday.

Wind speeds are no longer forecast to be hurricane strength, but they will be very risky and problematic. Winds in all of these spots could gust as high as 40 miles per hour, leading to additional areas of blowing snow and little/no visibility. These winds, combined with the snow that is forecast, will lead to whiteout conditions.

"It's very rare to have waves 6 feet or more on Flathead Lake, but it's possible this Saturday", said the National Weather Service in Missoula. 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.

The combination of the strong winds and heavy, wet nature of the snow threatens to down trees and power lines. "Snow will have a huge impact and will likely cause downed trees and potentially plenty of damage/power outages".

There will likely be agricultural damage from 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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