NWS – 50 mph Winds and Avalanche Danger for Western Montana
As if this big dump of snow wasn’t enough, the National Weather Service and the West Central Montana Avalanche Center are predicting winds of 50 miles per hour or higher for travelers and avalanche danger for back country recreationists.
KGVO spoke with Meteorologist Dave Noble early Thursday afternoon.
“There could be some gusts to 50 miles an hour in some locations, such as like Baker's Grade on highway 28 between Plains and Hot Springs,” he said Noble. “There also may be 40 to 50 mile an hour gusts from Hot Springs to Polson and Kila and U.S. 2. We have a high degree of certainty that gusts near 60 miles an hour will occur at Marias Pass, and our Great Falls office has issued a blizzard warning that will be in effect for tomorrow.”
Closer to Missoula, Noble said strong winds may batter the Bitterroot Valley, as well.
“There's a chance that some gusty winds may develop in the Bitterroot Valley tomorrow, maybe some gusts near 50 miles an hour or even greater,” he said. “But our confidence is not very high at this point. It seems like the areas that will see the gusty winds in this situation are near Georgetown Lake and Anaconda and the I-90 corridor including Garrison, Avon and McDonald Pass."
In a related story, those who may wish to take advantage of the mountain snow will want to know that the West Central Montana Avalanche Center is warning of avalanche danger in west central and northwestern Montana.
Director Jeff Carty provided details to KGVO on Thursday as he was headed out to check the area in person.
“Well we've had everything just sort of line up perfectly in the past couple of days for pretty high avalanche danger,” said Carty. “The past couple of days or especially yesterday we saw just a really low density snowfall that was falling on some stiffer surfaces from last week, and in some areas wind buffed snow in upper elevations. So that light density snow is not going to support much load and it's sitting on a surface that's a pretty good bed surface.”
Carty said the snow falling this week is heavy with moisture.
“The news that we have coming in today is that we're going to see up to three inches of water, so that snow-water equivalent of three inches could translate to up to three feet of snow in some places,” he said. “Lolo Pass and the Bitterroot crests are going to get the brunt of the storm.”
Get more details about the West Central Montana Avalanche Center here.
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