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'Be Prepared': NWS Warns Northwest Montana Of Bitter Cold Temps

National Weather Service headquarters in Missoula, Montana.
Josh Burnham
National Weather Service headquarters in Missoula, Montana.

A blast of arctic air is barreling down on the Northern Rockies. Some snow and blowing snow is in the forecast, but meteorologist Alex Lukinbeal says the system’s biggest threat comes in the form of bitter cold temperatures.

“It’s going to arrive right about Sunday morning. For areas along the divide, around Marias Pass, for example, we could see wind chill approaching negative 50 to 60 degrees. Around Kalispell and the Flathead Valley Sunday morning, we’ll see wind chills right about negative 35 degrees. Further south in Missoula, we could be seeing wind chill approaching negative 30 degrees Sunday morning."

Lukinbeal, a meteorologist with National Weather Service office in Missoula, says the forecast is calling for moderate to heavy mountain snow with light to moderate valley snowfall.

“Snow is not as much of a concern with this front. Pretty much widespread across the area, we’re going to be seeing about 1 to 3 inches as this arctic boundary pushes through tonight through Saturday morning. This afternoon, already we’ve seen reports across northwest Montana of anywhere from 3 to 5 inches pretty widespread through the Mission and Flathead Valley.”

Lukinbeal cautions Montanans in the way of this winter system to take it seriously.

“The blowing snow and combination with dangerous temperatures – if you’re planning on doing any traveling, make sure to have some emergency supplies. And dress appropriately and be prepared for those really cold temperatures.”

The initial bite of cold weather will start to push into west-central Montana later tonight. The cold temps, even additional snow showers, are expected to last at least through early next week.

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