BILLINGS — It's Friday afternoon in the Big Sky, and that sky is full of clouds and hopefully full of rain Friday night. The temperature in Billings is already in the mid-60s, and possibly going higher.
Around the rest of the state, temps are mostly into the 40s and 50s out west but 60s and 70s in the east.
The thunderstorm outlook for Friday shows non-severe thunderstorms possible across south-central and eastern Montana Friday. This means no big boomers, just some gentle rain.
Once again, our weather is being driven by a low-pressure cell in Saskatchewan, Canada. It is pulling most of the moisture out of Idaho, Wyoming and Montana and drawing it into the low.
There's plenty of moisture coming up through Wyoming and Idaho. But once it hits the Beartooth mountains, the wind becomes downsloping and that inhibits rain and snowfall development.
However, the high-resolution forecast model shows that some of the moisture could get through by 6 p.m. and produce rain showers in Billings.
That same flow will continue into Saturday and produce copious amounts of rain in the valleys and snow in the mountains. The rain showers are expected to stick around through Sunday morning.
The computer models all suggest Billings could get a great deal of rain over the weekend, as much as half an inch to three quarters of an inch of rain.
Plus, we have a Winter Weather Advisory for the Beartooth and Gallatin mountains. The Beartooths could see 6 to 12 inches of snow above the 6,500 foot level and the Gallatins could see 2 to 5 inches.
Our temperatures will continue to cook up to 69 degrees Friday then roll back down to the 40s overnight and stay there for Saturday afternoon.
We will top out at 52 on Saturday and then slowly work our way to the upper 70s by the middle part of next week.
TONIGHT: Mostly cloudy with an 80% chance for showers and thunderstorms this evening, and more overnight. Northwest winds 5 to 15 mph. Low 46 degrees.
SATURDAY: Mostly cloudy with a 70% chance for more rain in the morning and the afternoon. North winds 10 to 20 mph. High 52 degrees.
SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy with a 50% chance for rain in the morning and showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon. West winds 5 to 15 mph. High 60 degrees.