The Associated Press
A strong winter storm extended Thanksgiving vacation for students in northwestern Montana Monday and brought wind chill advisories for residents in the northern part of the state. Classes were canceled in Kalispell, Columbia Falls, Bigfork and Whitefish Monday as a foot of snow combined with high winds created whiteout conditions Monday morning. “From midnight (Sunday) until about 10 a.m. this morning, we had zero visibility in some areas,” Flathead County Road Superintendent Charlie Johnson said Monday. “We plow the roads open and then have to go back and plow them again in a couple of hours. When conditions are like this, with the wind blowing snow, we get backed up in a hurry.” Temperatures are forecast to drop to 10 degrees to 20 degrees below zero across much of the state tonight, with a low of 23 below at Cut Bank. Wind chill advisories are in effect for north-central Montana for wind chills of 25 degrees to 40 degrees below zero through tonight. A winter storm warning is in effect for parts of western and southwestern Montana through tonight, with additional accumulations of 2 inches to 5 inches of snow in the valleys and up to 8 inches of snow in the mountains. A winter weather advisory is in effect for central and eastern Montana, where today’s overnight Lows are forecast in the single digits below zero. Wind chills in the Malta, Whitewater, Glasgow, Scobey and Opheim areas are forecast to drop to 25 to 35 degrees below zero tonight. Polebridge reported 19 inches of snow on the ground Monday, while West Glacier had 14 inches, Libby 13, Whitefish 12 and Kalispell 8 inches to 10 inches. “This happens several times each winter,” said senior forecaster Bryan Henry with the National Weather Service in Missoula. “An Arctic air mass comes down and usually brings some decent snowfall with it. This time, we had a strong Pacific system move in and hit at the same time, so we got a lot of snow.” Managers at The Big Mountain ski resort were thrilled with the storm, which raised snow levels to 36 inches at the summit and 14 inches at the base. Temperatures are forecast to moderate by midweek.