Sorry for the sports analogy but weather is fickle and it has been favoring areas West of the Continental Divide recently. From Tuesday night through next Monday it looks like a series of small to medium storms will deliver copious amounts of snow (20-24” totals) at areas along and north of I-90 on the Westside. Over on the Eastside of the Divide, dry skies will prevail until Thursday when a cold front looks to deliver 2-4” at Big Sky and perhaps Maverick and Bridger Bowl. Eastsiders will again see snow on Saturday afternoon through Sunday with another few inches likely. Next week sees continued unsettled weather on both sides of the Divide.
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Short Term Forecast
West of the Divide:
Westerly flow has been ushering in wet snow above 4500’ and will continue Weds night. Areas along and north of I-90 look to accumulate the most snow with Lookout Pass in the best location for up to another 6-10" foot. NW areas like Whitefish, Blacktail, Turner and possibly Snowbowl may receive another 3-6" overnight. Discovery and Lost Trail look to be just south of the flow with maybe an inch or two possible. Early Thursday morning a cold front invades and brings 3-6” at Lost Trail and Discovery with 2-4” at those other areas along and north of I-90 by Thursday night.
Here's a few pics below from Whitefish on Wednesday. 6" overnight Tues. and another 3-4" during the day on Weds make it look pretty good!! Images courtesy of Whitefish Mountain Resort.
East of the Divide:
Dry weather continues through Wednesday night. Thursday a weak cold front arrives over the Divide that will bring light snow and colder temps to mainly the SW region (Big Sky, Maverick) with maybe 2-4” by Thursday night. Bridger may see an inch or two as its on the north boundary of the moisture feed. Snow showers and cooler temps will be around all day Friday with perhaps another inch or two possible across the SW mountains. All other areas beside the SW region ones will likely not see any appreciable snow out of this system.
Cumulative Snowfall map below for 1/23 - 27 with some very impressive pinks and whites (12 - 24") along most mountain ranges West of the Divide. East of the Divide, the Madison Range (Big Sky) also looks to be in the 6-10" range.
West of the Divide:
A cold unstable airmass will lead to continued spells of on and off moderate snow from Thursday night through the day on Friday. Snow totals will range from 2-4” to the south to 3-5” along and north of the I-90 corridor by Friday night. A brief break on Saturday morning will be followed by increasing clouds and snow by afternoon as the westerly flow returns to the Westside. La Nina’ loves this pattern that packs an atmospheric river of moisture destined to be wringed* out by mountains of Western Montana (*called orographic lift). All this equates to heavy snow in the mountains of NW Montana from Saturday afternoon through Sunday at Lookout Pass north (Turner) and east to Whitefish. Too early for snow amount predictions but they could be impressive, especially at Lookout Pass. Snow levels look to rise to 5000’ on Sunday so the snow will be a bit dense. Monday will deliver a quick break before a cold front sweeps through on Monday night and snow (of the lighter variety) returns on Tuesday.
East of the Divide:
Brief high-pressure will be present across the region on Saturday before remnant snow showers delivered over the Divide by a warm westerly flow Saturday afternoon into Sunday will deliver snow showers that may drop a few inches across the SW mountains by Sunday afternoon. High pressure then builds in on Monday with a change likely on Tuesday with the passage of what looks like a much stronger cold front. We’ll hope this front passage develops into something more than a few inches as has been the pattern over the last week.
West Central Montana Avalanche Center
Flathead Avalanche Center
Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center:
Geography Key :
WEST of the Continental Divide
Montana Snowbowl, Discovery Basin, Lost Trail Powder Mountain, Lookout Pass, Whitefish Mountain Resort, Blacktail Mountain, Turner Mountain
EAST of the Continental Divide
Big Sky Resort, Bridger Bowl, Red Lodge Mountain, Maverick Mountain, Great Divide, Showdown
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