Montana Could Set Cold Weather Records This Weekend
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Montana is flirting with some of the coldest weather in decades this weekend with winter weather that's like what our great-grandparents experienced in the early days of the Treasure State.
A powerful Arctic front finally pushed across Western Montana Thursday afternoon and evening, driving temperatures down by as much as 40 degrees. Combined with persistent snowfall overnight, it was a dramatic change from the relatively mild and dry weather of the past several weeks.
Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Missoula are expecting temperatures to fall even further heading into the weekend, low enough to break cold weather records in several locations Saturday morning.
Missoula's all-time coldest temperature is -33. Temperatures probably won't drop quite that far. However, it depends on how the skies clear.
NWS says with cloud cover, Missoula is forecast to hit -26 Saturday morning, with -25 in the Bitterroot, between -32 and -42 in Kalispell, and Polson dropping under -30. Clear skies could add a few more degrees to that deep, deep freeze.
January 13th's low-temperature record in Missoula is -17 from the brutal winter of 1993, so that seems likely to fall. Kalispell's record for that date is -21, set in 1998 and that's also set to be eclipsed.
The coldest maximum, or warmest temperature, Saturday was -2 in 1916, and -4 in Kalispell, also in 1916. So there are two more records that could be broken.
Dangerous wind chills
However, don't be tempted to run outside to experience this weather for yourself, at least not with plenty of adequate protection. Wind chills Friday morning were averaging around -30 in Missoula, as low as -54 below in the Upper Blackfoot, and as low at -60 along the Rocky Mountain Front.
That means frostbite on exposed skin in 10 minutes or less, so be extremely cautious.
When will it warm up?
NWS says it's difficult to say for certain. Some weather models are seeing temps climb back above zero on Monday. But there could be enough cold air to create another round of snow when the next round of Pacific moisture moves into the Northern Rockies on Tuesday.
LOOK: Biggest snowfalls recorded in Montana history
Gallery Credit: Stacker