Forecasters with the National Weather Service Office in Missoula say Western Montana is still on track for "near record" cold temperatures Thursday morning.

And there's still a chance we could even see some records fall. 

Forecaster Trent Smith said the latest information still shows Missoula with the coldest day in 9 years and coming close to readings not seen in 40 years.

"That's still the anticipation. We are still continuing with a low here in Missoula of - 31 degrees come Thursday morning."

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Cold, but how cold?

The question is whether Missoula might hit the all-time cold weather reading of 33-below from January 1957. Or stop short of the record, and the forecast low. 

Smith explains a lot depends on the exact conditions Thursday morning.

"We have to have a clear night and we have to have calm winds. Even if we don't hit - 31, we'll still probably be in like - 20 to - 25 range," Smith said. "We're fairly confident in that. But we'll probably have a little bit of wind, even just a slight breeze of five to 10 mph. With that cold, avoid temperatures of - 20 will easily drop us into the - 40 to - 50 range for wind chills."

Frostbite is possible in as little as 5 minutes. 

Forecasters are still anticipating a warmup as we approach Christmas Day. And in fact, Montana will see a rather dramatic turnaround this coming week. While it will remain below freezing at night, daytime highs might be consistently in the 40-plus degree range all of next week. That should help melt the snow some, but not our memories of this exceptionally cold fall season. 

READ MORE:  Missoula has already had a miserable fall, even before winter's start 

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