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It Could Be the Start of a Brutal Winter

Officially, the first day of fall started less than a week ago, on September 23. However, we could be looking at the beginning of an especially brutal and cold winter here in Montana.

Last year, our conditions were mild during the last part of the year. Our temperatures and snowfall amounts held true to averages. This was a departure from the weather for the last several years when cold temperature records and snowfall amounts were broken almost every year.

It did catch up to us. We had a particularly cold and snowy February and March. The additional heavy precipitation helped us, going into the spring and summer of 2019 and helped to keep this a tremendously mild fire-year.

The indications are that we are about to get back to the colder, snowier, longer winter we’ve been seeing for about a decade now. Normally, our cold weather doesn’t begin until late October. However, warnings are up for this weekend, ahead of the first of October, for severe winter weather.

The weather.com site is calling this a “Historic September Snowstorm”. For accuracy, September snowstorms have occurred in Montana before, so I’m not sure that the label really fits. We might not know that until the storm is finished.

However, they are predicting that many locations in Montana will receive over a foot of snow and blizzard warnings have been posted. They are also predicting that the combination of heavy, wet snow and high winds will cause damage to trees and the power grid. Power outages are expected.

That isn’t even the worst of it. Our temperatures are also due to plunge, breaking and possibly shattering cold temperature records. High winds and low temperatures result in dangerous wind chill temperatures.

All of this is a result of a strong polar jetstream that is flowing out of the Gulf of Alaska down to around the Bay area of California. As the jetstream dips, it will allow frigid arctic air to flow southward and as the jetstream moves east, it will draw considerable moisture from the Pacific Ocean.

Abnormally cold and snowy weather is expected to occur in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. This weather could extend even farther south and will gradually work its way east and southeast. Looking at the projections, and if they are accurate, the worst part of the storm will probably hit east of here, in the Bitterroot Valley and up beyond Glacier National Park. That part isn’t unusual. However, it isn’t common for a large storm like this to hit this early in the year and we will still probably get the cold and snow even in my location.

This sort of severe, unsettled air could also lead to thunderstorms. Thankfully, we’ve had two days of heavy rainfall, so the forests are relatively damp.

Normally, the weather service doesn’t issue strong warnings in Montana, but over half of the state is under winter storm watch, winter weather advisory or winter storm warning postings. It definitely sounds like this is going to be a major storm (or storms, since it won’t be a single storm, just a single storm front).

The northern Rocky Mountains are about to get slammed, people. Then the storms will move east. It could trigger severe weather throughout the US, including the southeast.

  • Question of

    Would you be concerned if you got a hazardous blizzard and winter weather warning?

    • Yes
    • No
    • We never get blizzards or hazardous snowfalls
  • Question of

    If you live in the north, are you ready for a major winter storm this early in the year?

    • Yes
    • No
    • It feels like it is too early for a major winter storm
    • I don’t live in the north or where I’d have to worry about severe weather

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Written by Rex Trulove

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