Winter Storm to Bring Snow and Freezing Rain to Missoula
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The National Weather Service Office in Missoula is predicting what they are calling a moderate to high-impact winter storm starting on Wednesday and continuing through Friday.
KGVO News spoke to Meteorologist Trent Smith who described the scope of the winter storm.
There will be a Combination of Snow and Freezing Rain
“We actually have a pretty good system that's going to be making its way through the Northern Rockies over the next 24 to 48 hours,” began Smith. “It's going to start off with some snow moving into extreme northwest Montana tonight (Tuesday night) into tomorrow morning (Wednesday), and then it'll be slowly progressing its way southward throughout the period and finally tapering off by Friday morning.”
Smith said much-needed snow will blanket the mountains, with several inches of snow bringing travel issues to the western Montana Valleys, as well.
Up to Two Feet in the Mountains and up to Five Inches in the Valleys
“We have a very good patch of moisture coming out of the Pacific that’s going to be bringing some significant snow,” he said. “We're looking at about one to two feet of snow in the mountains. In the valleys, we're predominantly looking at potentially two to five inches over that time frame. So we’re also probably looking at some westerly winds associated with this, but nothing too significant. Those winds will probably bring down that precipitation.”
Because of the warmer valley temperatures, Smith said some of that snow will turn to a dangerous freezing rain.
“One minor threat we are looking at about a 20 to 30 percent chance of some pockets of freezing rain across northwest Montana,” he said. “We’re throwing that into the mix as well, and then like I said everything should be tapering off by the Friday morning time frame.”
It Could Turn into a Slippery Mess on the Roads
Smith said the combination of moisture and warmer temperatures will cause travel difficulties, but a cold front will follow shortly afterward.
“We are going to be kind of fluctuating,” he said. “For instance, we don't have those strong cold poles so we should actually see temperatures warming back up into probably the mid-30s on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday afternoon. I think that'll be short-lived but those temperatures are still cold enough to keep it snow and that's why we also have the threat of freezing rain in a few pockets because we do have a little bit of warmer air associated with it. Then Friday we will start trying to pull in some cooler air bringing the temperatures back down, but nothing as cold as what we've seen here.”
Click here to get more details of the winter storm coming Wednesday through the weekend.