A severe early fall storm is expected to plunge into the northern reaches of the eastern Rocky Mountains this weekend, potentially bringing as many as 50 inches of snow to parts of Montana, CNN reports.
Already bedeviled by unseasonably cold air, the region will see a strong cold front with high winds and near-record cold air plunge into the region, bringing wet and heavy snow particularly to the higher-altitude regions of the mountains.
The National Weather Service in Great Falls, Montana confirmed that the drastic weather conditions could potentially become disastrous.
“This has the potential to be a historically significant early-season snow event,” the agency said.
Outside of the mountains, some areas will possibly see as many as 15 to 36 inches of snow. Meanwhile, sustained winds of more than 39 miles per hour, and gusts of up to 74 miles per hour, means the region will experience blizzard conditions.
Forecasters are warning about postnetial damage to trees that have not yet shed their leaves. Because of that, the tree will hold more snow as well as adding to structures and power lines because of the early nature of the storm. What’s more, this heavy livestock-producing region puts animals in possible danger as well. Authorities are warning farmers and ranchers to “make sure livestock and pets also have the essentials that they will need during the storm.”
Winter storm warnings will be in effect for portions of Montana from 6:00 p.m. local time (8:oo p.m. Eastern Time) Friday to 6:00 p.m. local time (8:00 p.m. Eastern Time) Sunday.
This would not be the first time that an early-fall storm has brought heavy snow and blizzard conditions to the region.
Meanwhile, in Montana....— Matt Moore (@WGALMattMoore) September 27, 2019
A major storm is set to dump FEET of snow in parts of Montana this weekend.
At the same time, we'll be near 90 degrees tomorrow afternoon! pic.twitter.com/rHd2tegoVR
In 1934, according to The Great Falls Tribune, a late September storm plunged into the region, bringing 13 inches of snow to some areas, and as much as 28 inches to other parts of the region.
Paul Nutter, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Great Falls, says that such early storms not unheard of but they are rare.
“This type of event has happened in the historical record, but it is rather rare,. Some potentially similar matches, maybe one in the ’50s, one in the ’80s. We’re talking about the type of event that we don’t really see but maybe once every 10 or 20 years in the historical record that we have,” he said.
Power outages may:— FEMA Region 9 (@FEMARegion9) September 25, 2019
▪️ Disrupt communications, water, & transportation.
▪️ Close retail businesses, grocery stores, gas stations, ATMs, banks, & other services.
▪️ Cause food spoilage & water contamination.
▪️ Prevent use of medical devices.
Prepare today: https://t.co/qrp1y5eySp pic.twitter.com/tlYGILSZe5
In a more recent example, an October 2017 snowstorm left residents of Havre, Montana without power for a week.
Increasing likelihood of snow returning this weekend. Now is the time to prepare. Pack a winter survival kit for your vehicle. Prepare what you would do if power is lost. And don't forget your livestock and pets. Find the latest here: https://t.co/afaCxpFDIf #mtwx pic.twitter.com/oCD6XTdS26— NWS Great Falls (@NWSGreatFalls) September 25, 2019
Nutter warns residents, particularly in rural areas, to use what little time they have left before the storm hits to get ready. That means, among other things, stocking up on important supplies, including food and water.