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Snow Sidewalks

Taylor Jacques walks on a sidewalk covered in snow and ice in the University District of Missoula recently. 

Complications from an expected arctic cold snap have already affected some weekend activities across northwest Montana, with the National Weather Service Missoula office posting winter storm warnings and weather advisories for most of western Montana from Friday afternoon through Saturday afternoon.

Snowbowl ski area was closed Saturday because of cold and high winds.

Missoula’s Heartthrob 5K foot race, due to be run on Saturday starting at 10 a.m., has been canceled due to wind chill and low temperatures, according to a Facebook post from Run Wild Missoula.

“This decision is not only to keep participants safe, but also the volunteers who help make our events possible,” the post said.

And a blinding snowstorm in Minneapolis on Friday has postponed preliminary activities at the Race to the Sky dogsled race in Lincoln. (See related story.) 

The Salish-Kootenai College 12th annual Early Childhood Services Baby Fair set for Saturday has been canceled. A new date has not been set.

The Winter Storytelling Program at Traveler’s Rest canceled its Saturday presentation on “Making Tracks” with Rosalyn Lapier, and rescheduled the session for 11 a.m. Feb. 16.

“Given the severity of the weather outlook, we decided it would be unwise to encourage people to be out on the roads” said Loren Flynn, Travelers’ Rest park manager. “We’re thankful that Dr. Lapier and our partners at Missoula Parks and Recreation have been flexible and helped us to reschedule these programs when conditions improve.”

Although the storm was expected to bring new snow, skiers will have to postpone their powder days.

Whitefish Mountain Resort announced on Facebook Thursday that Friday and Saturday night skiing, and Saturday children’s programs, have been canceled. Whitefish spokeswoman Riley Polumbus said that the Whitefish Whiteout ski race scheduled for Saturday has been postponed to Feb. 23.

“As far as what kind of other operations we have tomorrow, it’s yet to be determined,” Polumbus said Friday afternoon, advising visitors to check the snow report at skiwhitefish.com for up-to-date information.

In Lakeside, Blacktail Mountain Ski Area snow sports director Jessi Wood said weekend operations were planned to proceed as normal as of Friday afternoon, and that “we’re not calling anything until that weather arrives.” Guests can find up-to-date information on the mountain’s website, blacktailmountain.com, or by calling 406-844-0999.

The winter storm warning stays in effect through 2 p.m. Saturday for the Flathead County region, including Bad Rock Canyon to Marias Pass on Highway 2, Bigfork to Swan Lake on Highway 83, and the Polebridge vicinity. Snow accumulations of 3 to 6 inches along with blowing and drifting snow, damaging winds with gusts up to 50 mph and dangerous wind chills are part of the warning.

The Continental Divide around Butte and Helena has a storm warning in effect through 2 p.m. Saturday. It warns of blowing and drifting snow making for slippery road conditions on Highway 200 over MacDonald Pass and Interstate 90 over Homestake Pass, as well as wind chills of 40 below zero between Friday evening and Saturday.

The Highway 200 corridor between Bonner and Greenough and north to Seeley Lake and Condon has a winter storm warning through 2 p.m. Saturday. Wind gusts could hit 50 mph.

The southwest corner of the state has the most extreme wind chill potential. Dillon, Bozeman and the area southeast of Helena and Butte fall in the advisory zone through 2 p.m. Sunday. The forecast warns of snow accumulations in that area of 2 to 4 inches and wind chills as low as 40 below zero. Between 3 and 6 inches of new snow could come with the storm.

By Saturday afternoon, the winds should die down but cold air will settle into the valleys. That should send nighttime lows well below zero along the Continental Divide.

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Natural Resources & Environment Reporter

Natural Resources Reporter for The Missoulian.