Prepare for -30 as Missoula sees worst cold in decades
In fact, temperatures dropping to as much as 30-below zero in Missoula may make you forget the heavy snow that's also in the forecast.
We've seen extreme cold in the forecast for more than a week. But now we're finding out how frigid, as the strongest surge of cold air since 1983 blasts across Montana.
NWS Meteorologist Corby explains it's coming from a massive pool of cold air with 60-below temps that formed over Siberia and has been pushing across Canada. The air is so cold, and dense, it could break records for high pressure.
"All of those numbers would challenge both our regional records for December and all-time records for the Lower 48."
"Dangerously and bitterly cold"
Dickerson explains there are only two storm events on par with what's coming, January of 1979 and just before Christmas in the early 1980s.
"The Christmas Eve event of 1983, temperatures ranged in the Bitterroot and Missoula in the 25 to 35 below zero range. Along the Blackfoot, we got down to 50 below in Potomac and down here in the Big Hole 55-below in Wisdom with a 52 below in Butte."
This event likely won't be that cold, but close enough
"That's right 30-below in Missoula and we got a 46-below over there in Butte," Dickerson says. "It's really extraordinary how this cold is developing, and it's really also very challenging to forecast because the models tend to vary wildly in the extremes. But this is a pretty good middle-of-the-road forecast if you will, on the extreme event."
Dickerson says everyone needs to be ready in conditions that could see wind chills down to 50, or 60-below Thursday morning, with frostbite possible in just 5 minutes. His advice is to layer up, or as he puts it, "wear it all because you're going to need it."
"So it's pretty extraordinary. This kind of cold, the kind of cold that we don't see very often, possibly once or twice in a generation. For many people in Montana have never seen this kind of cold."
Read more: Before the cold, heavy snow expected
Watch: Full NWS briefing