The National Weather Service is forecasting dangerous levels of wind chill and extreme cold for the week of Jan. 3-7.
According to the weather report, a winter storm arriving Sunday, Jan. 1, is expected to bring snowfall before it transitions to an extremely cold winter weather pattern on Monday, Jan. 2. By Monday morning, forecasters expect wind to cause blowing snow and poor visibility for travel, and the wind chill approaching minus 30 and minus 40 degrees by Monday evening.
Tuesday through Saturday, Jan. 3-7, is expected to be terribly cold, with five days of extreme temperatures forecast. Near-record lows are expected in numerous areas, with 30 to 40 degrees below zero (and possibly colder) expected in Seeley Lake, Polebridge, and other areas outside the Flathead.
“Recent snows and snow depth will contribute to the potential for extreme and near record low temperatures across western Montana. In addition, high temperatures will have a tough time approaching the 0°F mark in many areas,” NWS reported.
Gov. Steve Bullock on Dec. 28 issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency and temporarily exempting carriers from “hours of service” regulations due to harsh winter conditions and an increased short-term demand for propane. The order temporarily suspends “hours of service” regulations for carriers actively involved in transporting propane, heating oil, and diesel fuel to communities across Montana.
“Montana’s winter weather can pose a serious threat to the livelihood of Montanans who depend on propane and heating oil,” Bullock said. “This Order will ensure the timely and necessary delivery of petroleum products so that Montanans keep warm in their homes and continue to work, even in the harshest of winter conditions.”
Sunday should bring 2 to 5 inches of snow to the valleys, with 4 to 8 inches in the mountains. Wind should be a factor in Bad Rock Canyon, with gusts up to 35 mph expected.
The Flathead Valley is expected to see minus 15 to minus 20 degrees for those five days, NWS reported.
NWS reported high confidence in this forecast.
Here’s a breakdown of wind chill and how long a person can stand it before frostbite sets in.