By Tim Leeds
Snow arrived in the Havre area Tuesday night, and though it may not stick around, "it always reminds you of what's coming," National Weather Service meteorologist John Blank said.
Blank said NWS this morning had received reports from Big Sandy of about 3.5 inches of accumulation and from Gold Butte in Toole County of about 2.5 inches. The only report from Havre, he said, was of about 1 inch, but that was early, before the heavy snow started to fall.
NWS issued a snow advisory for an area from the middle of Glacier County to the eastern edge of Blaine County, and to the southern border of Chouteau County. The advisory was a prediction of 2 to 5 inches of accumulation, ending this afternoon.
Sgt. Greg Szudera of the Montana Highway Patrol in Havre said his office had taken five calls about accidents by 11 a.m. today.
"It's a busy day for the Montana Highway Patrol," he said.
He added that the patrol is gearing up for more calls.
"All I can request at this time is that people take care to get from point A to point B, and buckle up for safety," he said, adding that if anyone has to travel, it might be better to wait a day or two until the weather warms up again.
The Montana Department of Transportation Web site reports highways that are snow-covered or snow-covered with ice north of Havre and from about Hingham to Chinook, and south of Havre to about Box Elder. It reports wet highways east of Chinook and from Box Elder to just north of Fort Benton.
Havre Police Chief Kevin Olson said about 10:30 a.m. that his department had only dealt with one accident so far. Olson said a substantial increase in accidents usually starts with the first snowfall after the ground freezes.
Olson reminds drivers to use caution, leave a bit earlier so they don't have to hurry and in cases of extreme weather not to drive at all unless it's absolutely necessary.
Blank said the snow is not expected to stay long. NWS predicts a warming and drying trend after today into early next week. He added that snowstorms can happen in north-central Montana anytime from September on, so this storm is not unusual. Storms have hit north-central Montana as early as Labor Day, he added.
The Hill County Commissioners' office announced that the burn ban in Hill County was lifted today.
The burn ban was put in effect on June 1 because of dry conditions in the county.