It’s very hard for meteorologists to write about weather across the entire country because weather is not something that happens nationally. It happens to you—in your backyard, or on your commute, or better yet, at your local ski area. For this reason, I’m not a huge fan of providing a snow overview for the entire United States because inevitably I’ll miss something that’s important on a local level.
But this week, the national weather map is pointing to just one area of focus, which not only makes my job a little easier but also brings good news to a state that begins with an “M.” No, I’m not talking about a freak late-season snowstorm for the hills of Missouri. Rather, it’s all about Montana (and to be fair, Idaho as well).
As a slow-moving storm heads into the United States from the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday, it will take aim at the northern half of Idaho and western Montana. Sometimes storms will just zip right along the jet stream, bringing snow for only 6 to 12 hours. However, this storm is going to “hang out” for a while and provide snow to this area from Wednesday night through Saturday morning.
The snowfall forecast from Wednesday through Sunday by the American weather forecasting model, called the GFS. While snowfall is one of the hardest types of weather to predict, this slow-moving storm seems very likely to deliver some pre-weekend powder to parts of Idaho and Montana.
The snow forecast map shows the expected accumulations from Wednesday through Sunday, and it doesn’t take a meteorologist to figure out where the snow will fall (or which way the wind is blowing—thanks Bob Dylan). Accumulations of over a foot are possible from Brundage, Idaho up to Lost Trail Powder Mountain, Idaho (only open this weekend). Just a bit further east, Big Sky, Bridger Bowl and Moonlight Basin, Mont. should also do quite well with a foot or more possible.
After a break from the snow on Sunday through early next week, another storm may bring snow to most of the west coast from California all the way to Washington. But this is over a week away, and long-range forecasts at these lead times just aren’t worth getting excited about, as the computer models will always change their mind. So until the track of the “next-next” storm becomes a little clearer, enjoy the snow in Idaho and Montana!
Meteorologist Joel Gratz is the creator of opensnow.com and is based in Boulder, Colo.