Cold Weather Hangs On

By Beacon Staff

Those people looking forward to a white Christmas are in luck this year.

Temperatures will drop again this weekend, with highs in Kalispell expected to reach zero and 2 degrees on Saturday and Sunday respectively, according to Peter Felsch, warning coordinator meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Missoula.

“We might be dealing with some dangerous wind chill values Sunday morning,” Felsch said. “It’s something to keep in mind for people going to church or venturing out. It could be pretty brutal.”

By Sunday night, snowfall will resume throughout the valley and is expected to continue throughout the week. The eight- to 14-day forecast shows below normal temperatures and above average precipitation, but, “in general, in northwest Montana you probably won’t see the type of values you saw in the last storm,” Felsch said.

The forecast Christmas Day is for a high around 16 degrees and snowfall is likely. Those traveling through the state over the holiday should expect periods of snow and be cautious over the mountain passes, Flesch said. “Snowpack and icy roads are in order.”

But even with the past few weeks of cold temperatures and snow, area snow precipitation levels are still below average. The Flathead River Basin is running about 50 percent of normal snowpack; Kootenai River Basin is at 46 percent of average; the Upper Clark Fork is at about 71 percent; and the Bitteroot is about 46 percent of normal.

“We’re still hurting as far as snowpack,” Felsch said. “With cold temperatures the snow that’s fallen is pretty fine, not a lot of water content to it, that’s why we’re still seeing lower percentages.”