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Western Montana is in for a soaking wet weekend, meteorologists report

A weather system is edging into western Montana that forecasters are calling “excessive rainfall.” A handful of flood watches are now posted for the region.
National Weather Service Missoula
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A weather system is edging into western Montana that forecasters are calling “excessive rainfall.” A handful of flood watches are now posted for the region.

A weather system is edging into western Montana that forecasters are calling “excessive rainfall.” A handful of flood watches are now posted for the region.

LeeAnn Allegretto, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Missoula, says western Montana is in for a soaking wet weekend. Experts call these kinds of extended rain events “atmospheric rivers.”

“All the moisture that we get down by the equator comes right over top of us, kind of a special delivery right into our area.”

The National Weather Service issued flood watches from Saturday evening through Monday afternoon for the Flathead, Mission, Missoula and Bitterroot valleys as well as the Kootenai/Cabinet and Lower Clark Fork Regions.

The first surge of moisture will slide into northwest Montana on Friday. A second, stronger pulse moves in on Saturday, followed by a final surge from Sunday into Monday.

While central Idaho will bear the brunt of this system, Allegretto says portions of northwest Montana and areas along the Continental Divide will pick up a lot of rain this weekend.

“One to three inches. Now, that’s not to piddle what we’re going to get in the Missoula and Bitterroot valleys, which is an inch – slightly higher maybe if you’re on the benches – but an inch of water over three days is pretty high for us.”

Parts of Montana east of the Continental Divide could pick up some scattered showers and storms on Saturday. Severe storms are possible on Sunday along a line south and east of Billings to Ekalaka.

Cooler, unsettled conditions are anticipated to last through the rest of June. Allegretto says that might help stave off the start of a significant wildfire season at least until later this summer.

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