Snow, Wind Hammers Western Montana

By Beacon Staff

UPDATE 1:20 p.m.

The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for the West Glacier region and Flathead and Mission valleys at 9:25 a.m. for blowing and drifting snow and dangerous wind chills. The advisory remains in effect until 5 p.m. Monday.

Also, the Flathead County Sheriff’s Department is still advising “emergency travel” only in Flathead County. Roads are shut down because of snowdrifts or experiencing blizzard conditions, according to the department’s morning press release.

Along with heavy snow and strong winds the weather brought a welcome event for local children: All Flathead County schools are closed for the day. The schools automatically close when the state or county declares emergency travel only, according to the Flathead County superintendent’s office. It was the first time schools had been closed for weather since Nov. 27, 2006.

However, today was already a scheduled vacation day for students for teacher in-training at Kalispell’s schools and schools in Creston and Pleasant Valley. Teachers attended the scheduled training today as planned. Schools that had planned for students to attend today will have to make up the missed day at another point in the school year, unless extra days were already built into their calendar to cover for events like this.

NWS said northeast winds and blowing snow will continue local whiteout conditions today, and with colder air spilling into the region, dangerous wind chills of 10 to 20 below are expected to occur throughout the day. Kalispell’s high temperature for Monday is forecasted at 7 degrees.

Cold weather and snow are predicted to continue through the week, with NWS predicting around a 50 percent chance of snow most days this week. Temperatures will average in the mid-teens. The current temperature is 3 degrees in Kalispell with wind chill dropping it to minus 18 degrees in some areas

UPDATE 9:30 a.m.

As heavy snow and strong winds continue to hammer the Flathead Valley, all local schools have closed for the day, according to Mark Peck with the office of emergency services.

Also, the Flathead County Sheriff’s Department is advising “emergency travel” only in Flathead County. Some roads are shut down because of snowdrifts, according to Flathead County Sgt. Lance Norman.

Further south, the 30-mile stretch between St. Regis and Lookout Pass along Interstate 90 has closed because of a pair of avalanches and a jackknifed semitrailer, according to the Associated Press. There were no immediate reports of any trapped vehicles.