Highways, schools closed due to spring storm
April 30, 2009
AMY BETH HANSON Associated Press Writer HELENA
Authorities closed all the roads in and out of Browning on Wednesday after a spring storm dumped up to 4 feet of snow along the Rocky Mountain Front. A foot of snow fell in Browning overnight Tuesday, bringing the total on the ground to about 4 feet, the National Weather Service said. “Getting out of my door to the street, (the snow) was up to my wa i s t , ” B r ow n i n g s c h o o l s Superintendent Mary Johnson said Wednesday. “This is by far the worst (storm) we've had in several winters and it's still snowing.” Johnson said all she could see was a snow drift when she looked out of the south window of the administration building. “It's up to the roof,” she said. Johnny Noe, co-owner of the St. Mary Lodge in Glacier National Park, reported 5 feet of snow with 12-foot drifts. “The worst of this storm was from about midnight last night to 3 a.m. this morning,” Noe told the Great Falls Tribune on Wednesday. “We were getting about 2 inches an hour. It was just pounding, pounding, pounding.” The Weather Service said the storm brought 2 feet of snow west of Cut Bank while drifts of 5 to 7 feet were reported west of Fairfield. About a foot of snow fell in Shelby while lesser amounts were reported to the south. The snowfall records for Great Falls were broken both Tuesday and Wednesday, with Wednesday's snowfall surpassing the record by some 8 inchers. “So we broke that record pretty handily,” the Weather Service's Jerome Saucier told the Tribune. Meteorologist Jonathan Suk, Saucier's colleague, said moisture coming in from the Oregon coast was mixing with cold air coming down from Canada to bring heavy snowfall to the Rocky Mountain Front. The Montana Department of Transportation closed some highways, including I-15 and U.S. 89 from the Canadian border to Pendroy, U.S. Highway 2 from East Glacier to Cut Bank and parts of Montana 200 also were closed for most of the day. The storm led to school closures in Cascade, Conrad, Dutton-Brady, Power, Fairfield, Vaughn, Sun River Valley, Choteau and the Greenfield School in Teton County. The Cascade, Conrad and Dutton- Brady districts also will be closed today. The Montana Highway Patrol said icy roads were to blame for two traffic deaths Tuesday. A man in his 30s died after an SUV went out of control on icy roads and crashed early Tuesday near Garrison, and a 68-year-old Colorado man died Tuesday night when he lost control of his pickup truck on Interstate 15 near Melrose.