A real winter storm finally hit the area, although it was much less severe than expected and local officials say it generally didn’t cause many problems.
A storm front blew through Montana Wednesday morning, bringing chilly temperatures and a bit of snow to the Havre area, with the most heavy snowfall occurring in higher elevations in the state.
“It probably hit central Montana the hardest, from Great Falls to Lewistown, and mostly in the mountains, ” Jim Brusda, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Great Falls, said this morning.
A winter storm watch, and warning above 5,000 feet, was in effect Wednesday from 6 a. m. through 11 p. m. The forecast expected 3-inch to 6-inch accumulations in the plains, with up to a foot of snow in the mountains.
What Havre actually saw was some fairly heavy flurries between noon and about 4 p. m., with a half-inch accumulation at the reporting station at the Havre City-County Airport.
Matt Ladenburg, Montana Department of Transportation Havre- area maintenance chief, said his crews were busy sanding and de-icing highways in the area Wednesday afternoon. Although the weather wasn’t as bad as forecast, winter driving conditions are here, he added.
“It was a good thing it happened during the day, so everybody was on duty and got it taken care of quickly, ” Ladenburg said.
Hill County Sheriff Don Brostrom said, as far as a first storm of the year goes, it was relatively quiet for his office. Aside from slick streets in Havre and slick highways, not many problems arose.
The Havre Police Department reported that no accidents occurred Wednesday during the snowfall, with the first accident reported after the storm at 7:58 a. m. today.
Jerry Otto, head of the Hill County Road and Bridge Department, said his crews were ready, and were out sanding Wednesday, but the storm didn’t require that much work. The crews will be out sanding again today, he added.
Brusda said some reports of fairly deep snow did come in from central Montana in the higher elevations. Hobson reported about 4 inches of new snow, 7 to 8 inches was reported near White Sulphur Springs, and a spotter south of Niehart reported 10 to 15 inches.
Along the Rocky Mountain Front in higher elevations, above 6,000 feet, some areas received 6 to 9 inches of snow, he said.
Along the Hi-Line, the amount of snow varied. Brusda said that, along with Havre’s half-inch, Cut Bank received about an inch while Turner, next to the Canadian border, reported about 2½ inches.
The region should receive a break from significant snow until next week. Brusda said a milder front is expected to come through Friday, bringing cooler temperatures and a 20 percent chance of snow to the Havre area, with a warmer day Saturday then another front with a 20 percent chance of snow coming through Sunday.
The next significant storm front is expected in the middle of next week. Brusda said that event, expected to hit Wednesday, is still far enough out that its severity is unknown.
“That’s the next big one that we need to watch, ” he said.