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Montana declares winter storm emergency as heavy snow strikes

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock declared an emergency after the state bore the brunt of an "unprecedented" major winter storm, which caused power outages as it dumped snow across the Rocky Mountains region over the weekend. And the National Weather service warns it's not over yet.

QuoteMajor winter storm will continue to produce snow, blowing snow, and treacherous travel conditions over the northern Rockies into tonight. Winter Storm Warnings remain in effect across much of Montana, Idaho, and portions of Washington state."
— National Weather Service advisory

What's happening: The National Weather Service said up to 2 feet of snow fell in Montana's mountains Saturday — including a record 14 inches in Great Falls, where it was still falling Sunday. The NWS even recorded on Saturday a trace of snowfall at Missoula International Airport, where no trace of snow has been recorded on Sep. 28 since 1893.

  • The ongoing "major winter storm" across the Northern Rockies was expected to continue through Sunday before beginning to wind down early Monday.
  • "An additional 1 to 2 feet (locally higher) of snow is still possible, particularly for portions of western Montana," the NWS said.
  • The region was also under threat from strong winds, which the NWS said may bring blizzard conditions, "with blowing snow continuing to disrupt travel into Monday even after the snowfall has come to an end."

What's next: The NWS said the storm would eject into the Plains on Monday, with showers and thunderstorms developing north of the low pressure system from the Northern Plains to the Upper Mississippi Valley Sunday night through Monday. Locally heavy rainfall and severe thunderstorms were possible.

  • Underneath the trough, daytime highs could reach just 20 to 30-plus degrees below average across much of the Northwest with several daily record low maximum temperature records possible into Tuesday, especially across the Northern Great Basin/Rockies and California, the weather service said.