Storm Bears Down – Prelude to a 2011 Monster Montana Winter?


Late tonight, a powerful cold front will sweep across western Montana. By noon Saturday, National Weather Service forecasters predict six to ten inches of snow will drape the mountain passes around Missoula, along with winds that could gust as high as 40 mph.

More snow is then predicted Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday … basically it’s the only graphic on the 10-day forecast. The Missoula valley bottom may only get a dusted from the initial punch, but the storm is eerily reminiscent of the cold front that settled over Montana in Mid-November last year.

That snow event presaged a winter in which more than a dozen snow-measuring sites set new records across the state, and which some skiers dubbed “powder-pallooza.”

Could we be in for a repeat?

I’ve long held that the very act of saying it was going to be a big winter was the best way to assure it wasn’t. But La Niña (the weather phenomenon largely responsible for the rash of moisture and cold last winter) is busy setting up shop again, albeit a tad weaker than last year.

Time will tell what that will bring, but Bob Nester of Missoula’s National Weather Service office say we should expect to see “system after system pound the Northwest into the Rockies.”

Batter up.


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Want another dose of Montana’s great outdoors? Check out Paul’s other posts: Missoula Fall Foliage Photo GalleryMissoula’s Fall Color: The Best Ever?, and Missoula’s Bucks Are Ready to Rumble.


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.