Montana Daily Snow

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By Bob Ambrose, Forecaster Posted 1 month ago February 24, 2024

Wild Weather Ahead

Summary

Mild, windy and unsettled conditions will be seen at many resorts/ski areas across the region over the weekend as the jet stream moves overhead. A westerly flow will direct a steam of moisture into NW MT beginning Sun afternoon. Snow levels will start around 5000’+ then drop overnight as a strong cold front pushes SE through the state bringing heavy snow for most mountain locations into Tues.

Short Term Forecast

Saturday, February 24 – Tuesday, February 27

A mix of sun and clouds and mild temps on Saturday across most of the mountains of Montana. A westerly flow aloft will usher in a weak system on Saturday afternoon into Saturday night across the northern tier of the state with snow showers bringing possibilities of trace accumulations to a few inches by Sunday morning at Whitefish, Lookout Pass, and Showdown.  

Continued mild temps Saturday, with mid-mountain highs ranging between 28 – 34F.   Freeze/thaw conditions will prevail at most locations. 

Take note that strong W/SW winds will also be kicking up across the Northern Rockies on Saturday. Ridgetop gusts from 35 to 45 mph are likely for almost all mountain locations during the afternoon hours. Showdown could see gusts to 55 mph on Saturday afternoon. Some wind holds might be possible on upper lifts region wide.    

Sunday will continue to be very windy across the entire Northern Rockies as the upper-level jet stream moves overhead. W/SW winds of 20 to 30 mph, with gusts of 40 to 60 mph possible by the afternoon hours. Again, wind holds might be encountered on upper lifts. Clouds will also be streaming into the Treasure State from north to south through the day on Sunday in advance of a deep low-pressure trough advancing from the north.

Beginning on Sunday afternoon, remnants of an Atmospheric River will work their way into NW Montana. Snow levels will start off high at 5000 – 5500’ with light to moderate periods of wet snow falling above these elevations from Lookout Pass north to Whitefish. Look for this to intensify overnight Sunday as this moisture meets up with the aforementioned deep trough and cold front pushing south out of Canada. 

This strong Canadian cold front will move in a south-to-southeasterly direction through Montana on Monday spreading periods of widespread moderate to heavy snowfall lasting through Tuesday morning. This is a broad trough working with a favorable westerly flow and orographic lift.  

With the jet stream overhead, these upslope westerlies could result in some deep accumulations across west-facing slopes. The mountains along the western border with Idaho, Lookout Pass, and Lost Trail Pass look best positioned for 8 – 16” from Sunday afternoon through noon on Tuesday.

Storm totals (thru noon Tues) at Whitefish, Big Sky, and Bridger could add up to 5 – 10”, with 3 – 7” at Disco, Snowbowl, and Showdown (closed Mon-Tues).

Red Lodge, always the wild card out there on the eastern front of the Beartooth’s continues to show strong in the snowfall models with heavy snow developing Monday afternoon and lasting through noon on Tuesday with 8 – 12” possible. 

Temps will do an about-face starting Tuesday to well below seasonal averages as a modified arctic air front infiltrates most regions of the Northern Rockies. 

The always optimistic NBM blend model map for snowfall across the Northern Rockies from Sunday 2/25 through noon Tuesday 2/27 below. 

Extended Forecast

From Wednesday 2/28 night into Thursday 2/29, the Northern Rockies will continue to see excellent chances of accumulating snowfall under an active Westerly flow. Temps will quickly moderate beginning Wednesday and rise to slightly above average on Thursday. 

Currently, the mountains west of the Continental Divide stand the best chances for an additional 6 – 12” from Tuesday night through Thursday night. We’ll also need to watch snow levels on these storms as currently they stand around 5000’. 

Unsettled weather is favored to continue across the region until the start of the following weekend. It’s a ‘troughy’ period across the Northern Rockies which is just what we need.

Look at the current, and somewhat dismal snowpack percentages across the state. We’ll look at this again in a week to see how much we can catch up. 

 

The Climate Prediction Center's 'super' weather computer data agrees, keeping the Northern Rockies stormy and right around average in temperatures.

 

Thanks for reading. All looks positive for one of the most active weeks of weather we have seen in quite awhile. Stay tuned for my next storm update on Monday morning. 

Powder Out. 

Bob

Announcements

Montana Ski Areas & Resorts Geographical References 

WEST of the Divide: 

Blacktail Mountain  - OPEN Weds – Sun

Turner Mountain  - OPEN  Fri – Sun

Lookout Pass – OPEN   

Ski Discovery  -  OPEN

Lost Trail Powder Mountain  - OPEN  Thurs – Mon

EAST of the Divide:

Big Sky Resort – OPEN

Bridger Bowl  - OPEN

Great Divide  - OPEN

Showdown  - OPEN

Teton Pass Ski Area  -  CLOSED for the Season.  

Maverick Mountain  - OPEN  Thurs – Sun

 

Backcountry Avalanche Reports:

West Central Montana Avalanche Center

 Flathead Avalanche Center

Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center:

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About Our Forecaster

Bob Ambrose

Forecaster

Ever since his early days as a ski racer on the icy slopes of New Hampshire’s White Mountains, Bob chased his dreams of deep powder west to Tahoe and finally Montana. A self-proclaimed 'weather junkie', his passion for maps, charts, and forecasts always lead him to the best snow in Montana.

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