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Johnstown, PA 15901

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Johnstown, PA 15901

Late-Week Blizzard Rages Across N. Rockies, Montana

UPDATED 5:45 PM MDT, April 6, 2012

UPDATED By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Fred Allen

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Though the calendar says spring, winter has stepped on the accelerator across the northern Rockies and western Montana High Plains late this week. Snow will be measured in feet, with power disrupting wind gusts feeding growing blizzard concerns.

Heavy, wet snow is blanketing the ground across much of Montana this evening. Though the heaviest snow is tapering off along the Interstates 90 and 94, the same luck hasn't been extended to residents along U.S. Route's 2 and 87 in northern Big Sky Country. Here, the snow will fall heavily at times through tonight, before retreating into south-central Canada early this weekend.

As low pressure continues to intensify along the Rocky Front Range eastern slopes, it will produce gusty northerly winds up to 40 mph across central and eastern Montana. This coupled with falling snow will make travel quite an arduous task along and north of U.S. Route's 2 and 87 through tonight. In addition to difficult travel, the high winds and buildup of heavy, wet snow may lead to power disruptions.

Blizzard Warnings and Blizzard Watches remain in place through early Saturday, including Glasgow.

Additional Winter Storm Warnings and Winter Weather Advisories continue from far eastern Idaho's Panhandle into western Montana, including Great Falls and Missoula.

Total snowfall accumulations will close in on 2 feet across the highest mountain peaks in Montana, while totals ranging from near one-half foot to a foot will be common from far eastern Idaho's Panhandle into Montana's western Bitterroot Range.

The root cause for this blizzard is complex low pressure deepening along a cold front stretching from the western Dakotas all the way to eastern Arizona. In the wake of the front, cold, Canadian air is diving into the northern Rockies and Montana's western High Plains. At the same time, Pacific moisture being flung overtop the cold air will continue to produce heavy snow.

The good news is as quickly as the winter storm arrived earlier today, it will depart for the start of the weekend. High pressure will bring April sunshine and more seasonable 40s and 50s by Sunday. This will mean snowmelt will be well-underway come early next week.

The major winter storm will be a shock to the system following a month of record warmth. The average temperature in March was 7.5 degrees warmer than normal in Montana. In fact, last month ranked as the third warmest March and ninth consecutive month with above average temperatures in the Big Sky Country. Sidney, Miles City, and Glendive, Mont., all had their warmest March on record.

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