By Robert Lucke
One of the best improvements made by the Montana Department of Transportation in the last few years has been the installation of cameras at strategic highway points throughout the state as well as remote weather information stations on state highways.
Those cameras and information sites have taken a lot of guesswork out of winter road conditions.
That service has been especially valuable for the large numbers of Havre and Hi-Line residents who must travel Marias Pass to snowmobile or ski in the Rockies.
For example, there is a camera running 24 hours a day, all year long, at the Two Medicine Bridge at East Glacier. It is aimed at East Glacier and the mountains of the East Front along the highway. In the foreground, the camera focuses on Highway 2 just before it runs down to the Two Medicine Bridge. Select that site on your computer and in a couple of moments you are seeing what conditions are at East Glacier. For those leaving early in the morning, turn to that site even if it is dark. Seeing the lights of East Glacier in the distance tells the traveler that at least there is not a blizzard or ground blizzard happening in that area at that time.
The remote weather information stations also collect information about other areas, including Hingham and Essex, where there is no camera. Plenty of road and weather information about those sites is posted on the Web as well.
Throughout Montana, camera sites are at the Two Medicine Bridge, Crystal Creek West of Kalispell, Lookout Pass, MacDonald Pass, Monarch Canyon, Judith Gap, Boulder Hill, Bozeman Hill, Raynolds Pass and Monida Pass.
The MDT Traveler site holds more than just highway and mountain pass conditions. Updated weather reports are included for all areas of Montana. There are even resources there to find out about the most current avalanche conditions throughout the region.
This site is a must for outdoor winter recreationists and folks using highways who want the latest conditions.
The Web site is located at www.mdt.state.mt.us/travinfo/weather/camera.html.