Posted: Nov 6, 2012 9:13 AM by Meteorologist Matt Elwell
Updated: Nov 6, 2012 9:48 AM
A Winter Storm Watch continues to evolve, prompting the National Weather Service out of Missoula to issue A Winter Storm Watch for Much of Western Montana through Friday afternoon. The Great Falls NWS has issued a Winter Storm Watch Wednesday night through Saturday morning for southwest, central and northern Montana.
One thing that stands out with this storm over the last several days has been how consistent the weather models have been throughout the forecast period bringing high confidence into the forecast for substantial snow across southwestern Montana. Looking at the images included, the models for accumulated snowfall amounts range from 4.5" to 12" depending on which particular model and model run you are looking at. Similarly, if you look at Butte's forecasted snow accumulation, the models range from 2.5"to 12" during the forecast period.
Plenty can change between now and when the storm arrives on Thursday, and there is still plenty of uncertainty on how well the models will handle this situation despite the consistency between runs, but there are several things that we can count on.
1) The storm will start as rain and change quickly to snow
2) Substantial snow is expected across area mountain ranges in many cases more than 1 foot
3) Valleys will likely see 3-6 inches
Total accumulation will depend on the timing of the cold air. One or two degrees will make a big difference between 2-4" and 5-10". Regardless of the timing, we do expect slick and icy conditions across area passes as they deteriorate quickly. The warm ground already in place in lower elevations could give way to ice very quickly late Thursday and Friday morning as well. Please give yourself plenty of time to travel Thursday night and Friday, and beware of treacherous travel conditions through Saturday as well.
Also, stay tuned to KBZK and KXLF for the latest details and team coverage.