After a stretch of unseasonably mild weather, it’s back — and with a vengeance, according to a Thursday briefing by the National Weather Service in Missoula, which salted its announcement with words like “heavy snow,” “very strong system” and “possible blizzard conditions.” Oh, and cold. Really cold.
“We have very high confidence below-average temperatures” next week, said meteorologist Ryan Leach in a recorded briefing. "… For quite a while now, a lot of very cold air has been locked up in Alaska, and this kind of opening the door on it.”
But a “threat matrix” issued by the Weather Service quantifies the dire predictions. Leach narrated a series of color-coded maps that forecast “an extended period of snow” starting Friday night in northwestern Montana and continuing into Sunday.
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In terms of snowfall, he said it looks as though the mountains, the Flathead and West Glacier regions should see the worst of it, although the map for Saturday and Sunday showed 3 inches to 4 inches possible for Missoula.
Sunday might see a bit of a lull, but then there’s “the next wave that comes through Sunday night into Monday morning,” he said. That could bring as much as another 6 inches to 8 inches in Kalispell, followed by high winds that will whip the snow around. “The Monday morning commute could be pretty bad,” he said.
And then temperatures will likely plunge below zero on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Weather Service was set to update the weekend forecast on Friday. Stay tuned.