September snow - and plenty of it - on the way

UPDATE 10:51 a.m.

From NorthWestern Energy: 

Report outages and damaged and downed power lines by calling the NorthWestern Energy Montana Customer Service line, 888-467-2669 or online.

Every call and online report helps our crews and operators know how large the outage is to diagnose the potential scale and cause of the outage. 

Once the cause and impact of a power outage is diagnosed, our Distribution Dispatch Center calls in crews and dispatches them to repair any damaged equipment and get the power flowing again.


UPDATE 10:21 a.m. 

Officials want residents surrounding the North Hills burn scar area in the Helena valley to be aware that they should be monitoring changing weather conditions, with potential for flooding through the weekend.

This summer’s wildfire resulted in a loss of vegetation and left the ground charred and unable to absorb water, creating conditions for flash flooding and possibly debris flows. Debris flows are fast-moving, powerful mixtures of mud, rocks and trees. 

Worby McNamee, a DNRC Floodplain Specialist, said it’s important that residents living near the North Hills burn scar to have a flood evacuation plan and consider the following steps: 

· Keep extra drinking water on hand. Flooding can compromise local water systems.

· Always obey road closure signs and barricades. Never drive around barricades and remember, Turn Around, Don’t Drown.

· Report any flooding to local authorities immediately.


A rare September snowstorm is bearing down on western Montana.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for the central and southern portions of Lewis and Clark County from late tonight through Sunday. Forecasters are calling for anywhere from 10-to-18 inches of snow, with higher accumulations in the mountains.

Heavy, wet snow is also expected for parts of the Flathead, Mission, Missoula, and Bitterroot valleys. Those areas could see between 1 and 4 inches of snow.

Overnight lows tomorrow and Sunday should drop to the teens and 20s.

The city of Helena is preparing for the worst, and is anticipating snow-covered streets and downed trees.

Once the snow starts falling, city officials say plow crews will begin 12-hour shifts to keep roads clear and will continue to work as needed.  

For immediate road hazards, call 911. But if there is a non-emergency transportation issue, you can call the dispatch line at 447-1566.

The wet, heavy snow loads anticipated can also cause damage to trees, particularly when they’ve still got lots of leaves. This can result in broken limbs or even downed trees.

If there is a street blockage, officials ask that you call 911.

For trees affecting power lines, the point of contact should be Northwest Energy, at 467-2669.  

It is important to note that the City Parks department is only involved with city boulevard and park trees. Trees on private property must be handled by the property owner.

And we aren’t the only ones who are anticipating a winter-like event over the next few days.

The Idaho panhandle and northwestern Wyoming are also preparing for the storm.

Meanwhile, just a bit south, there are red flag warnings and concerns for potential wildfires.

Weather service officials say the storm could be ‘’a historically significant early season snow event.’’ 

Up to 3 feet of snow and blizzard conditions are forecast for the plains along Montana's Rocky Mountain Front.

Meanwhile, high wind and low humidity prompted weather service officials to issue fire danger warnings in central and southeastern Wyoming yesterday.

They say any fire that develops will likely spread rapidly.

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