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Severe Storms, Gusty Winds Eye N. Rockies

UPDATED 3:30 PM MDT, May 13, 2013

UPDATED By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Seth Carrier

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While much of the East gets chilled by a strong Canadian high pressure, the Northern Rockies are bracing for a round of strong spring storms today.

Thunderstorms are already developing along and ahead of a cold front stretched from northeastern Washington to southwestern Oregon. As this front moves east, the sharp temperature contrast between the warmer 70s and 80s in central and southern Idaho and much cooler 50s and 60s behind the front will bubble severe storms along the leading edge of the rain shield.

Due to the threat for developing storms, a Severe Thunderstorm Watch has been issued for northeastern Oregon, central Idaho and western Montana. This includes the cities of Baker, Ore., Lewiston, Idaho, and Missoula, Helena, Great Falls and Kalispell, Mont.

Given the strong winds aloft, damaging gusts will be the main threat with the storms, although hail larger than golf balls can`t be ruled out either along Interstates 15, 84 and 90 in Montana and Idaho. Even besides the thunderstorm gusts, the front is transferring plenty of upper-level wind energy to the surface. Gusts have already topped 45 mph in Cut Bank and Havre, Mont., with potential gusts exceeding 60 mph in northern Montana through early Tuesday. High Wind Warnings and Wind Advisories are in effect north of Interstate 90 as a result of the gust threat.

The storms will quickly move east through Montana and Idaho this evening before the front brings a drier and cooler trend overnight and Tuesday. Instead of highs in the 70s, temperatures will only rebound into the 50s on Tuesday.

Severe thunderstorms are rare in the Northern Rockies this early in the season. Generally speaking, the best opportunity for storms of this magnitude to strike is typically in early July.

Make sure that you take the WeatherBug app with you on your smart phone, tablet and computer. The iPhone app now includes Spark Lightning Alerts, a GPS-based lightning detection feature providing you the location of the closest lightning strike, so you can Know Before the storm hits. Click here for the link to download.

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