If the third time really is the charm, next week's sub-zero shot of weather may finally put this winter to rest.

Or it could just be Mother Nature playing with your cravings for spring, cruel meteorological mistress that she is.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service office in Missoula are warning of more widespread snow moving into Western Montana and North Central Idaho this weekend, followed by another round of "bitterly cold" temperatures in the middle of next week.

The "frosty fun" returns this weekend

In a weather briefing on Thursday afternoon, NWS forecasters said the trend back to active winter weather, after a couple of days of warm sunshine, will start to develop Friday night. Most of the initial impact will be for travel over the mountain passes, where several inches could fall between Friday night and Sunday morning. Lookout, Marias, and Lolo passes will probably bear the brunt of the first storm wave.

In the valleys, snow totals should be light, with possible accumulations of up to a couple of inches. But fluctuating temperatures could create some icy driving conditions in the late night and early morning hours, as the lower elevations experience both rain and snow.

By Sunday night and Monday though, NWS expects the snow to become more widespread with 4 inches or more in some of the valleys, and up to a foot in the mountains. There's a 60% chance some areas, like the Rattlesnake, Mission Mountains, the Clearwater Range in Idaho, and the Swan Mountains could receive up to 2 feet o snow.

Not December, but still REALLY cold

Then, an arctic front could develop Tuesday, pushing temperatures down into the single digits, and as cold as -20 in the valleys along the Divide, such as the Upper Blackfoot. The worst of the cold, along with wind chill, could be the main thing we face heading out the door Thursday morning.

If conditions develop as forecast, it will be the third time this winter that Western Montana has experienced deep subzero temperatures.

READ MORE: Forecasters expect Montana winter to continue

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