Montana Daily Snow
By Bob Ambrose, Forecaster Posted 2 months ago December 4, 2023
It was a snowy weekend along Montana’s western border with Idaho with some deep storm(s) totals as of Monday AM. Lookout Pass pulled in 16” and 18” fell at Lost Trail Pass. Other highlights include Whitefish, with 10”, and Big Sky seeing 7”. Next up, a warm front is not what’s needed, but that’s the reality. By late Weds, a colder Pacific trough moves in adding a little more snow through Fri night
Short Term Forecast
A couple of images from Lookout Pass's opening day on Sunday. (Images M.Sawyer/Lookout Pass)
Monday, December 4 – Wednesday, December 6
The aforementioned warm front moved in on Monday morning. During the day on Monday, an upper-level ridge of high-pressure takes over the region allowing extremely mild temps to build across the Treasure State. This ridge unfortunately allows a moist SW flow to overrun it bringing predominant cloud cover with numerous mountain rain showers each day through Wednesday. While the eastside of the Divide will see some showers, most of the measurable rainfall will focus mostly west of the Divide.
Snow levels will be very high through the period, generally around 9000’ west of the Divide, and around 8500’ east of the Divide. Rainfall amounts Monday night through Wednesday morning look to range between .5 to 1.0 of an inch, mainly for the far western mountains north of the I-90 corridor with lesser amounts of .2 to .3 at Whitefish and Glacier NP. Lookout Pass could see around 1.5” of liquid precipitation through Wednesday.
Mid-mountain temps on Tuesday and Wednesday will be well above normal on both sides of the Divide, with highs generally in the low to mid-40s. Yikes, it’s early December.
The latest run of the NBM blend below shows rainfall (in green) mainly falling across far western and NW Montana. This model runs from Monday morning through Tuesday evening.
Thursday, December 7 – Friday, December, 8
Thankfully, the European (below) and GFS models are bringing more forecast confidence into a broad, and colder Pacific trough moving into the Northern Rockies by Wednesday evening. This storm track looks very favorable to bring more widespread snowfall across the state with a series of shortwaves moving in. There is increasing confidence in moderate daily accumulations Thursday through Friday. Temps will also revert to near, or just above seasonal norms by Thursday. Snow dances are starting to work!
There is also more confidence growing for a transient ridge to build in behind the departing trough on Saturday. For Sunday, it’s trending dryer but there is still 35% of the models favoring another Pacific trough to move over the Northern Rockies. We’ll revisit this again in my next post on Wednesday, December 6.
Montana Ski Areas & Resorts Geographical References & Projected OPENING Dates
WEST of the Divide:
Whitefish Mountain Resort - December 7th
Blacktail Mountain - TBD
Turner Mountain - TBD
Lookout Pass – Re-OPENS either 12/7 or 12/8
Montana Snowbowl – December 8th (snow permitting)
Discovery Basin - OPEN (weekends only)
EAST of the Divide:
Big Sky Resort – OPEN
Bridger Bowl - December 8th
Red Lodge Mountain – OPEN
Great Divide - OPEN (Fri – Sun)
Showdown - TBD
Teton Pass Ski Area - December 15th
Maverick Mountain - TBD
Backcountry Avalanche Reports:
West Central Montana Avalanche Center
Flathead Avalanche Center
Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center:
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