Unlike some years, we've done a pretty good job of dodging the first signs of winter in Montana this fall. While there have been a few higher-elevation storms, they've been followed by stretches of mild weather leaving even the alpine areas fairly snow-free.

But that's all going to start changing next week. And the outlook from the National Weather Service is indicating we will really notice the change this time around.

A couple of days ago, the "major pattern change" started to show up in the extended weather modeling. And now, just 5 to 7 days out, the potential for much colder weather, and even snow showers in the valleys of Western Montana is taking a solid position in the forecast.

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First the good news

Fall in Western Montana has been pretty agreeable this year. While we didn't receive a repeat of last year's record warmth in October, we have been able to enjoy stretches of mild weather in between rain storms.

More of that will be happening the remainder of the week, as the Northern Rockies remain under the influence of warm, dry conditions that will push temperatures 15 to 20 degrees above average through Saturday. Sunday brings clouds, but temperatures should still be in the mid-to-upper 60s.

More than "hoodie weather" next week

However, NWS forecasters are expecting the shift to start taking place by Monday, and by the middle of next week, temperatures will be about 10 degrees BELOW normal.

NWS graphic
NWS graphic

A cold air mass moving over the Northern Rockies will bring not only showers but the potential of "widespread snow" by mid-week. That means snow in most valley locations, especially for the Wednesday morning commute. High temperatures may not break 40 degrees and could be in the mid-30s on Thursday morning, with clearing skies.

NWS forecaster Alex Lukinbeal says because the ground has stayed fairly warm that might prevent snow from accumulating in some of the valley floors.

And some of the extended forecasts are suggesting we probably won't get above 50 degrees through the end of the month.

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Gallery Credit: Meagan Drillinger

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