Photo Gallery: The Beginnings of Winter in Missoula

By PAUL QUENEAU

Could the mountains above Missoula see 40 inches by this weekend? The jam of snow squalls that hit Missoula on Monday might not have stuck much to the valley floor, but the mountains are eating it up.

The Snotel station on Stewart Peak just north of Snowbowl registered 25 inches of the white stuff late Monday. That’s up from only 7 inches less than three days before. Meanwhile, the meter at Badger Pass in the Bob Marshall Wilderness is reporting 27 inches, as is the North Fork of the Jocko between Seeley and Arlee. Twelve Mile Creek in the Bitterroot is reporting 20 inches, and Flattop Mountain in Glacier National Park is claiming 22.

And this storm is nowhere close to over.

Forecasters say the Missoula valley bottom should grow white on Tuesday as temperatures plummet. The flakes will then taper some in the afternoon and into the evening as the mercury heads toward 15 degrees overnight.

Another strong punch of Pacific moisture should then land late Wednesday, bringing what forecasters at the National Weather Service in Missoula say will likely be heavy precipitation to the mountains and passes.

Is it possible Stuart Peak could see 40 inches on the ground by the weekend? Time will tell. I witnessed the fattest flakes I’ve seen in a long time as I drove around taking pictures up Grant Creek Monday morning. Four inches was already on the ground and it was snowing hard enough to be a whiteout.

Time will tell whether we are in fact witnessing the opening volleys of another epic winter in the making. No matter what, it’s been a satisfying and beautiful start.

 

This furry Bay has no problem with the snowflakes.
This furry Bay has n...
A wizened mare seems forlorn at winter's arrival.
A wizened mare seems...
Keeping close for warmth in the snow.
Keeping close for wa...
Winter wonder abounds in Grant Creek.
Winter wonder abound...

 

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Want another dose of Montana’s great outdoors? Check out Paul’s other posts: Photo Gallery: Dreams of Another Monster Winter, Missoula Fall Foliage Photo Gallery, and Missoula’s Bucks Are Ready to Rumble.

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Paul Queneau is an avid outdoor recreationist, naturalist, and hunter. He works as conservation editor of Bugle Magazine at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, where he writes about, photographs, edits, and films wildlife. See and read more of his work on the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s website and Paul’s photo portfolio.