Nov 8, 2012 1:06 PM by Matt Elwell - MTN News

TRAVEL WATCH: First Major Snowstorm Hits Southwest Montana

BOZEMAN - The Winter Storm Warning is still in effect for the area through Saturday morning, and snow amounts are still basically on track, with around 4-10 inches of snow possible in the valleys with the bulk of the snow coming overnight and into Friday as our system begins to blossom in southwest Montana.

Some reports from around Butte are already in excess of 3-4 inches with the snow still falling hard at 9:45 a.m. Bozeman is beginning to see snow sticking on grassy surfaces with snow covering cars.

The setup is fairly potent, especially for an early season storm. The map image included here is the model output valid Friday around the noon hour. We already have an arctic cold front draped across Montana, but a Pacific low pressure system is what makes this system such a snow maker for southwest Montana. The Pacific low is providing an abundance of moisture that overrun the cold air already in place. This is a perfect recipe for high snowfall rates as long as that low pressure is in place. Models indicate that this will move out of the area early on Saturday morning, but blowing and drifting snow will continue to make difficult driving conditions throughout the storm.

With the warm ground from earlier this week and overriding cold air sliding across the Treasure State, expect to see melting snow refreeze producing icy or slick travel conditions across the board, but use extra caution if you are planning to travel across mountain passes as well as bridges or overpasses. The worst conditions are likely to develop overnight tonight as the Pacific low pressure continues to mature and strengthen.

Stay tuned to KBZK and KXLF for the very latest on the winter storm. If you have weather photos that you would like to share, please send them to


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