Winter Storm Buries the Flathead

By Beacon Staff

The largest storm so far this winter arrived Saturday and Sunday, covering the Flathead Valley – and many other parts of the state – with several inches of snow and dropping area thermometers to sub-zero temperatures.

This weekend’s storm began Saturday evening, dumping an estimated 4 inches of snow in Kalispell by Sunday night, according to the National Weather Service. However, at Glacier International Airport, a snow observer for the weather service was unable to take measurements because snow was blowing horizontal, and high winds and drifting made it difficult to get accurate estimates in the area.

The area five miles north of Bigfork recorded the most snow in the region with 10 inches.

Other NWS snow totals, as of the 18-hour period ending at 11:36 p.m. Sunday, were: Lakeside, 5.5 inches; Swan Lake, 6 inches; Hungry Horse, 6 inches; Eureka, 6 inches; and Libby, 7.5 inches.

Road crews estimated 8 to 10 inches of snow on U.S. Highway 2 from near Glacier International Airport north to the junction of Route 40; 6 to 8 inches on U.S. Highway 93 from Elmo to the Junction of Route 82; and, also along U.S. Highway 93, from 10 miles north of Kalispell to Stryker there were estimates of 8 to 10 inches of new or drifted snow.

The storm arrived as an arctic front from the north, ushering in cold air from northern Canada behind the past weekend’s system. Temperatures across western Montana and Idaho plummeted to their coldest of the season. Sunday night’s low temperature in Kalispell was 12 degrees below zero, with wind chill pushing temps to 14 degrees below zero.

Area residents should expect temperatures to stay chilly throughout the week. A slow warming trend is expected to raise high temperatures in Kalispell to just 19 degrees by Friday. For more area forecasts go to the Missoula NWS homepage, http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/mso/.

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