Montana Daily Snow
By Bob Ambrose, Forecaster Posted 2 months ago December 8, 2023
A broad Pacific trough is currently over the Northern Rockies bringing a wide swath of light to moderate snowfall across the Treasure State. In the past 36-hours (as of 7 AM Fri), Big Sky and Bridger Bowl both picked up 9", Lookout Pass 4", and Whitefish 3". Additional accumulations are likely on Friday for most areas. Dry on Sat, then a weak system arrives late Sat night with snow through Sun.
Short Term Forecast
Whitefish Mountain Resort became the fifth resort to open in Montana on Thursday!
Friday, December 8
As the upper-level low transports waves of moisture via a westerly flow expect periods of light snow showers through the day on Friday for the mountains on both sides of the Divide. Best positioned for the most snowfall will be Lookout Pass, north to Whitefish, where 2 – 5” are likely before tapering off during the early evening hours. Blacktail, Snowbowl, Disco, and LT fall in the 1 – 3” range.
East of the Divide, Big Sky, and perhaps Maverick Mountain will see 3 – 6” with snow showers ending around midnight Friday. Light accumulations of 1 – 3” will be seen at Bridger, Showdown, and Red Lodge. Surface temps across the higher elevations will range from the upper teens to the low 20s. Moderate westerly winds.
Saturday, December 9 - Sunday, December 10
A transient ridge of high-pressure will build in behind the departing trough on Saturday. By late Saturday night, Pacific moisture begins to erode the ridge bringing a return of widespread light snow showers for both sides of the Divide.
Lookout Pass, which had its lower mountain snowpack greatly reduced during the AR event earlier in the week will reap the most out of this system with 5 – 10” possible through midnight Sunday. Whitefish and Big Sky fall in the 2 – 4” range, with unfortunately just a few inches possible at the rest of the ski areas on both sides of the Divide. Red Lodge looks to miss this system.
With another Pacific system bucking up against a building ridge, look for a NW flow aloft to bring a mixed bag of unsettled skies across the Northern Rockies on Monday. It will be snow, with only light accumulations of trace amounts to a few inches possible across NW Montana from Lookout to Whitefish. Lost Trail could also add similar light accumulations. These accumulations are in the 10 - 20% factor currently.
East of the Divide, Big Sky, Bridger, Showdown, and Maverick could also add an inch or two through Monday night. Mountain temps will stay right around seasonal, if not slightly warmer. Again, further time is needed to solidify the forecast.
All the weather models and their partner ensembles agree on a strong ridge of high-pressure moving over the Northern Rockies beginning on Tuesday and likely lasting through the following Saturday 12/16. Valley inversions will begin to develop by Wednesday bringing a warming trend across the upper mountain elevations across the state. This ridge will help to block any Pacific storms from entering the Northern Rockies through the week. Back to the funky snow dances!
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 – TBD
Montana Snowbowl – December 8th (snow permitting --- check website)
Discovery Basin - OPEN (weekends only)
EAST of the Divide:
Big Sky Resort – OPEN
Bridger Bowl - OPEN
Red Lodge Mountain – OPEN
Great Divide - OPEN (Fri – Sun)
Showdown - TBD (more snow needed)
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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