A shortwave low will move into SW Montana Sun night bringing light to moderate accumulations of around 3 – 6” at Big Sky and Bridger by Mon morning. Lookout, Snowbowl, and Disco west of the Divide could eek out 1 – 3”. Another shortwave Tues night into Weds looks to bring more widespread accumulations in the 2 – 6” for many locations on both sides of the Divide. Ridging ends the work week.
Short Term Forecast
West of the Continental Divide:
Below: Light snow has already started at Lookout Pass as of 4PM Sunday afternoon.
As a deep trough of low pressure moves eastward off the Pacific coast, another wave moves just south of the region Sunday night into Monday with the northern fringe of the system looking to bring light accumulations in the 1 – 3” range possible for Lookout Pass, Montana Snowbowl, and Discovery through Monday morning. Slightly less chances of a trace to an inch at Whitefish. Daytime temps on Monday will be just above seasonal averages.
Weak high-pressure on Tuesday is short-lived as a cold-front moves in via the aforementioned, but weakening Pacific low-pressure trough on Tuesday night. Widespread light snowfall will develop overnight and looks to last through the day on Wednesday. Currently, models are tracking the heaviest snowfall in a line from Lookout Pass north to Whitefish where storm totals of 3 – 6” look likely through Wednesday. Snowbowl, Lost Trail, Blacktail, and Disco could see 1 – 3”. Slightly colder on Wednesday with upper mountain highs in the low 20’s.
High-pressure will fill in behind the departing system on Thursday and looks to last into Friday delivering a daily forecast of sun and clouds across the region. Mountain temps will generally be right around seasonal averages on both days.
East of the Continental Divide:
Below: Webcam at Big Sky at 4PM Sunday shows light snow showers developing. Look for these to intensify overnight.
Webcams also indicate light snow showers falling at Bridger Bowl as of 4PM Sunday afternoon. As a shortwave moving through western Idaho moves into SW Montana on Sunday night, look for periods of heavy snow to develop at Big Sky and Bridger Bowl delivering a Monday morning smile of 3 – 6” by first chair Monday morning.
Lingering snow showers on Monday morning could add another inch or two at Big Sky and Bridger. Cooler Monday as a NW flow develops over the Northern Rockies with highs at 8000’ of 19F to 24F. Light to moderate west winds.
Transient high-pressure builds in for a mix of sun and clouds across the region on Tuesday before being flattened via a stubborn trough of Pacific low-pressure moving eastward Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. While most of the energy will be squeezed out of this low on the west side of the Divide, a trailing cold-front will cause locations across SW Montana (Big Sky, Bridger Bowl) and the North Central mountains (Showdown) to see periods of light snow, with 2 – 5” possible. Big Sky could possibly exceed these expectations. Colder on Wednesday with highs in the mid to upper teens at 8000’ across the region. Breezy as well, with NW winds in the moderate category.
Dirty high-pressure slowly builds Thursday for a mix of clouds and snow showers, with possible light accumulations of another 1 – 2” across SW Montana at Big Sky and Bridger. High-pressure looks to expand across the region on Friday for a generally sunny day with near seasonal mountain temperatures. Predominant winds look to shift to the west decreasing to light category.
Below: The NBM model animation for snowfall over Montana from Sunday afternoon through midnight local time on Monday night shows the heaviest snowfall across SW Montana at Big Sky and Bridger Bowl.
West and East of the Continental Divide:
Lots of uncertainty remains for this coming weekend’s forecast. Half the models indicate the high-pressure ridge flattening bringing in another pacific trough and half are steadfast holding onto a high-pressure regime. No confidence at this point. Let’s revisit this on my next forecast on Tuesday 2/7.
Below: Let's take a look at the general extended 6 - 10 day forecast from the mega-computers at the Climate Prediction Center. Good news for Montana as the temps look to stay in check (pretty much seasonal) with slightly above average chances of continued light precipitation across the Treasure State.
Thanks for tuning in.
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: