Aside from the relatively dry periods of Sunday and Tuesday, high elevations snow showers will be present for much of the next week. Despite the high likelihood of snow, accumulations per event will be only up to several inches in a given day. Daytime temperatures will warm well above freezing each day, with overnight temperatures barely cooling to below freezing for some locations. Afternoon winds will become breezy at times,particularly this afternoon and Monday afternoon.
A ridge of high pressure will dominate the region today through much of Friday. By Friday afternoon another weather disturbance will move through the region impacting the region with precipitation through Saturday morning. A couple of inches of snow are expected with snow levels lowering to 4000-4500 feet. Some higher elevations may receive up to 6 inches of snow.
A warm and wet weather system will continue into tonight with rain totals of 1 to 2 inches common in north central Idaho and northwest Montana. West central Montana will see lesser amounts. A cold front late this afternoon into the evening hours will bring gusty winds, a few thunderstorms, and quickly drop snow levels. Cool and drier weather is anticipated for Sunday.
The cold front will be through the region this morning and lower snow levels, gusty winds, and decreasing precipitation chances will be left in its wake. The best chances for any appreciable snow accumulations will be in the Beaverhead/Deerlodge and mainly this morning. A brief drier period remains forecast for tonight and Friday. Friday and Saturday will see warming temperatures and precipitation arrives Friday night with quickly rising snow levels.
The large scale pattern over the Western US this weekend into next week is a ridge of high pressure. However, there will be weather systems moving through the pattern, keeping weather active and causing periods of widespread mountain precipitation every couple days. The first system moves through Saturday night into Sunday morning, with snow levels between 4000 to 5500 (rising as one moves south). Several inches of fairly dense snow is expected in the high terrain overnight, turning to more isolated showers by Sunday afternoon. Relatively warm systems, similar in nature to Saturday night's system, look to move through Monday night, Wednesday night, and Friday night.
Widespread light snow down to 1500 feet this morning will slowly rise throughout today, particularly for all ranges south of I-90.
Significant heavy snow remains in the forecast for northwest Montana ranges, particularly in the vicinity of Glacier Park, this evening through Friday. An arctic airmass will move west of the Continental Divide today and stall along the Canada border today. The stalled edge of the arctic air will be a focal point for periods of intense snowfall. Up to 2 feet accumulation is expected along the Continental Divide. The arctic air will slowly retreat east late tonight, with snow levels and snow density increasing over time (i.e., upside down snow pack). Wind will also be a factor right along the Continental Divide, where east winds gusting to 30 mph will transport fresh snow to west facing slopes. Large fluctuations in temperatures will add to dangerously variable backcountry travel conditions.
Conditions for backcountry travel improve this weekend with high pressure overhead, however it is not necessarily a dry forecast. Snow levels will increase substantially through the weekend, reaching 5000 feet at times. Additional storm systems will bring more snow, mostly above 5000 feet, through the next week. Mountain snow pack will continue to steadily increase.
Scattered snow showers will be limited to northwest Montana Thursday and Friday as a ridge builds into the region and stabilizes the atmosphere to the south. Along with this ridge warmer temperatures back to near normal will occur. Saturday through early next week a more organized weather disturbance and cooler air will impact the region. Expect mountain snow accumulations through the middle of next week.
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