Winter storm watch, widespread precipitation through Friday


A major storm system will bring much needed rain and snow to fire ravaged western Montana.

A cold front is moving into the area. There will be a chance of evening showers and thunderstorms across southwest Montana, from Butte and Bozeman south to the Idaho border. Otherwise, increasing clouds with lows in the 40s.

FIRE WEATHER WARNING until midnight from the Bitteroot National Forest to the Deer Lodge and Beaverhead National Forest. West winds 10 to 20 mph with gusts up to 35 mph.

An AIR QUALITY ALERT remains in place across the state.

WINTER STORM WATCH and a WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY are posted Thursday night and Friday for the mountains of west central Montana and southwest Montana, including the Bitterroot mountains east to the Bridger Range near Bozeman. Snowfall of one to four inches above 6000 feet and four to eight inches above 7000 feet. The Butte area will receive snow by Friday morning.

The autumn like storm system will then move into the region from Canada. As it does, much cooler air will invade the state. Snow levels will drop with widespread valley rain and mountain snow Thursday through Friday.

The best chance of widespread, beneficial rain will be from the Missoula area south and east to Butte, Helena and Bozeman. Three quarters of an inch to two inches of rain will be possible in these areas. Rainfall will be much less across northwest Montana around Kalispell. A tenth of an inch to a quarter of inch will be possible there.

Highs Thursday in the 50s to lower 60s, with highs cooling to the 40s to lower 50s Friday, which is much colder than normal for this time of the year.

Milder and drier this weekend with highs warming to the upper 50s to upper 60s by Sunday.

Another large storm system will bring another threat of rain and mountain snow next week, with temperatures remaining below normal.

It appears this big pattern change should do wonders in battling the fires in western Montana.

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