A White Christmas: More Wintry Weather on the Way

By Beacon Staff

As cold as this past weekend was in northwest Montana, temperatures may drop even more this weekend, with most of the area predicted to have sub-zero highs and several inches of new snow by Saturday.

“It’s a really interesting bit of weather coming up,” Bruce Bauck, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Missoula, said during a conference call Tuesday. “It’s intense weather, and more snow and cold is on the way.”

A cold weather system will move southward from British Columbia late Wednesday, bringing heavy snows into northwestern Montana before moving south toward Missoula on Thursday and Friday, Bauck said. From Wednesday night through Friday morning, Kalispell is expected to get about 9 inches of snowfall; Libby, 12 inches; West Glacier, 9 inches; Lookout Pass, 18 inches; Essex, 13 inches; and Missoula, 6 to 7 inches.

And those may be conservative estimates, Bauck added.

“I think we’ll more than double (the snow) we’ve got on the ground now by Friday morning,” he said.

Snowfall will give away to frigid temperatures as the week progresses. Wednesday’s daytime-high in Kalispell is expected to be about 12 degrees. But by Saturday, Bauck said “Kalispell will be struggling to even get to minus 1 (degrees),” and the NWS is predicting a daytime high of minus 3 degrees. Temperatures could get as low as minus 20 Saturday night.

Winds like last weekend’s gusts which toppled trees and caused power outages throughout the Flathead Valley aren’t likely to be repeated, Bauck said, but area residents should still expect steady winds of about 20 to 30 mph and 40 mph gusts this weekend. “They won’t be nearly as strong, but they’re still significant and will push wind chills back down to that 30 to 40 below range,” he said.

Early forecasts for Christmas week show that high temperatures may climb into the teens before falling back to single or negative digits.

For more information, storm and road warnings and up-to-date forecasts, visit the National Weather Service’s Web site.