Amazing 36-hour storm totals of 31” at Bridger Bowl, 27” at Snowbowl, 22" Big Sky, 20” & still counting at Red Lodge, 19” at Discovery, 14” Blacktail, 13” Lost Trail, 12” Teton Pass, and 8” Great Divide. Whitefish, unfortunately just north of the moisture flow pulled in 4”. Arctic air now fills into the state plummeting temps into frostbite warning criteria and drying things out through Tuesday.
Short Term Forecast
West of the Continental Divide:
Below: Arctic air has cleared off the cloud layer at Whitefish on Saturday morning. It was -5F when this summit cam shot was grabbed.
Below: Even though Whitefish was north of the storm track, a residual 4" goes a long way on the Big Mountain. Image R.McLaury/WMR
Gusty NE winds to 33 mph have been observed Saturday morning on the Big Mountain at Whitefish where the 10AM air temperature was -5F (wind chill -29F). The storm system will slowly clear out on Saturday as high-pressure begins to build in across the region. Lost Trail to the far south will see snow showers and an additional 1 – 2” during the day. Upper mountain high temps across the region will generally range from 0F to 5F with 10F at Lost Trail and Lookout Pass.
Sunday morning will see some frigid temps as clearing overnight drops temps to around -10F for most locations, with -15F at Disco and Whitefish. Sunday, a mix of sun and clouds with temps not moderating all that much. Highs will range from around -1F at Whitefish, Disco, and Lost Trail to the warm spot of 3F at Lookout Pass. Light N/NE winds.
The arctic high-pressure ridge looks to bring a mix of sun and cloud on Monday with increasing clouds and a few isolated snow showers overnight Monday with trace accumulations possible. Monday will continue to be quite cold, with upper mountain high temps ranging from 2F to 6F across the region. Tuesday, warmer still, with highs 10F to 18F under mostly cloudy skies with isolated snow showers with trace amounts to an inch possible through the day.
East of the Continental Divide:
**Patience will be needed Saturday as many ski areas and resorts will be digging out roads, parking lots, lifts, and performing avalanche control. Bridger Bowl has delayed its opening and Big Sky has its upper mountain on hold until avalanche mitigation is completed.
Below: With almost 3 feet of snow since Wednesday, the Andesite Mountain snow plot at Big Sky had to be dug out. The first shot is from Friday morning 1/27. The second shot is from Saturday morning 1/28.
Webcams at Red Lodge indicate heavy snow continuing to fall Saturday morning. The snow has come fast and furious at Red Lodge with 2” an hour snow rates and 15 to 20:1 snow-liquid ratios (current temp -5F). Look for another 1 to 3” of cold smoke at Red Lodge. Elsewhere, besides for some residual morning snow showers at Bridger and Big Sky, partial clearing will be observed across the region as the cold front pushes south. Arctic high-pressure begins to build, decreasing temps through the day with light N/NE winds. Temps will be brutally cold during the day on Saturday with upper mountain highs around -8F at Red Lodge, Showdown, Teton Pass, and Great Divide, with -5F at 8000’ at Big Sky and Bridger. Light to moderate north to NE winds with wind chills -30F plus. Frostbite warning.
An arctic airmass will be felt in earnest on Sunday morning under mostly clear skies with many base lodge elevation low temps of -20F to -25F. A strengthening ridge of high-pressure will bring a generally crisp and sunny day across the region Sunday. Extremely cold with upper mountain high temps well below zero for all mountain resorts and areas across the eastside. High temps forecasted at Showdown of -15F, with the warm spot at Big Sky at -12F. Light north winds. Frostbite conditions prevail.
High-pressure will bring the apex of the cold snap on Monday morning with 8AM low temps of -25F to -30F at Big Sky, Bridger, and Red Lodge. Mostly sunny and arctic cold during the day on Monday with upper mountain high temps rebounding into the 3F to 8F range under light SW winds. Increasing clouds Monday night into Tuesday across SW and North Central areas where some isolated snow showers may bring trace amounts to a few inches by days end on Tuesday at Big Sky, Bridger, and Showdown. Moderate SW winds will aid in moderating temps on Tuesday with upper mountain highs (at 8000’) of 10F to 12F at Big Sky and Bridger with 20F at Red Lodge.
Below: Snow depth map over the Treasure State has dramatically increased numbers over the past 48-hours. Besides copious amounts of powder, excellent surface coverage is widespread through the entire state.
West and East of the Continental Divide:
High-pressure will pretty much dominate over the Treasure State Wednesday and Thursday along with a steady rise in surface temperatures back to seasonal averages. An overriding disturbance on a NW flow aloft will begin to infiltrate the Northern Rockies on Friday 2/3 bringing chances of light accumulations of 1 – 2” for the mountains west of the Divide. East of the Divide will also see unsettled skies with light accumulation possible Friday PM into Saturday AM. Ridging is expected to return Saturday 2/4 and Sunday 2/5 for what looks like a dry and seasonably mild weekend.
Below: Surface temperatures over Montana from Saturday through 10AM local time on Tuesday. Expect extreme cold conditions Saturday, Sunday, and Monday with a slight moderation on Tuesday as SW winds start a warm up through the rest of the week.
Thanks for tuning in, my next update will be on Monday, 1/30.
Powder Out –
Montana Ski Areas & Resorts / Geographical References
WEST of the Divide:
Whitefish Mountain Resort – OPEN daily
Blacktail Mountain –OPEN Weds - Sun
Turner Mountain – OPEN Fri - Sun
Lookout Pass (MT/ID) - OPEN daily
Montana Snowbowl – Open daily
Discovery Basin – OPEN daily
Lost Trail Powder Mountain – OPEN Thurs - Sun
EAST of the Divide:
Big Sky Resort – OPEN daily
Bridger Bowl – OPEN daily
Red Lodge Mountain – OPEN daily
Great Divide – OPEN Weds - Sun
Showdown – OPEN Weds - Sun
Teton Pass Ski Area –OPEN Fri - Sun
Maverick Mountain – OPEN Thurs – Sun
Backcountry Avalanche Reports:
West Central Montana Avalanche Center
Flathead Avalanche Center
Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center: