One winter storm failed to show up in Missoula Monday morning but a second was expected to take its place early Tuesday as arctic air settled over western Montana.
Wind chill warnings remained in effect for most places east of the Continental Divide as well as the Kalispell and Polson areas, according to the National Weather Service office in Missoula. The snow was more concentrated west of the mountains, with 2 to 3 inches forecast for Hamilton and 1 to 2 inches for Stevensville, Missoula and points north. Lost Trail Pass had an alert for between 6 inches and 8 inches of snow Monday night into Tuesday.
Wind warnings stayed in effect until 5 p.m. Monday east of Missoula, where wind chills dropped to as low as 40 degrees below zero.
In Missoula the coldest wind chill on Monday was minus-15 at 1 a.m. and again at 6 a.m.
The coldest blast of winter shut down a handful of schools in the region and delayed the start for many outside Missoula.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that weather officials are warning of dangerous wind chills dropping below minus-30 degrees across much of the state, and avalanche threats in the West Yellowstone area and the southern Madison and Gallatin mountain ranges.
Wind chills between minus-40 to minus-60 degrees were expected in areas of north-central and northwestern Montana.
Despite difficult driving conditions throughout the region, the Montana Highway Patrol had reported no injury accidents in western Montana as of 11:30 a.m. Monday.
The Montana Department of Transportation reported a semi truck spun out on Interstate 90 a mile below Lookout Pass shortly before 7:30 a.m. Both westbound lanes were closed for a time, though one lane had been reopened by midmorning. Travelers were advised to expect delays and reduced speeds.
Temperatures around Missoula will struggle to reach the low 20s during the day and drop to single digits at night throughout the week. Another arctic cold-air mass could move down the east front of the Rocky Mountains and spill its chill into western valleys on Friday. This, combined with moisture blowing off the Pacific Coast, could produce widespread light snow Friday and into the weekend.
Missoulian reporter David Erickson contributed to this story.