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Get ready for a week of bone-chilling temperatures

Weather forecast for Dec 17-21 showing minimal precipitation but a 40% chance that low temperatures could be colder than -20F early next week
The 6-10 day temperature outlook shows persistent cold weather

After widespread snowfall in Montana this week, forecasters expect an Arctic cold front to envelop the nation, bringing cold that hasn’t been felt in Montana in several years. The coldest temperatures of the season are expected in the northern Rockies on Monday — single digit daytime highs are likely as are sub-zero overnight lows.

That could mean 10 to 20 below zero in western Montana according to Missoula National Weather Service Meteorologist Brian Conlan. The cold snap could last for a week.

“This prolonged stretch of cold, this will be the first time in about 5 years that Missoula will have seen it.”

However, this bitter cold won’t be isolated to western Montana.

“Oh yeah, it’ll be much colder east of the Divide.”

Conlan says there’s a 50/50 chance lows there could get colder than 20 below.

The National Weather Service is predicting “extremely cold temperatures” this coming weekend, lasting throughout next week. With frigid weather on the way, here are eight tips to stay safe and warm.

Jill Bonny is the executive director of Missoula’s Poverello Center homeless shelter. Bonny says that on top of being an emergency winter shelter, the Poverello can also sleep up to 135 people and is consistently running beyond capacity during this unusually cold fall. Bonny says it will turn away no one during the upcoming prolonged bitter cold snap.

“It’s hard to know what the numbers will look like. The highest number we’ve seen yet this year has been 164.”

Last year, Missoula’s emergency shelter averaged between 70 to 90 people a night. The coldest night of the year brought in about 117 people.

Bonny says rising food prices and related shortages means there’s now less food for the growing number of homeless seeking shelter. She says cash donations to Montana shelters are desperately needed, encouraged and appreciated.

Forecasters expect this cold snap to possibly linger through the holidays.

Jill Bonny is paying close attention to the frigid forecast.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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