Severe Storms Forecast to Pummel Western Montana This Afternoon

One-inch hail, damaging winds and flash flooding all possible

By PAUL QUENEAU

Fabio is finally coming to Missoula, and it could get ugly.

Starting at noon, the remnants of Hurricane Fabio will begin to impact western Montana, and forecasters are warning it may spawn some wicked thunderstorms from Hamilton north to the Canadian border.

“[Friday] is going to be a pretty interesting day,” says Dan Zumpfe, Meteorologist at Missoula’s National Weather Service office.  “We have multiple severe weather threats that are going to exist throughout the area.”

Some of the storms may produce one-inch-diameter hail or larger, winds in excess of 60 mph and frequent lightning, Zumpfe says.

He also warned we could see as well as flash flooding or even a replay of the rock and mud slides that closed a section of Going to the Sun road in Glacier on Tuesday, Some storms, especially those over Lincoln, Flathead, Sanders and Mineral counties, could dump rainfall in excess of two inches per hour or more. Tuesday’s storm in Glacier dumped 1.5 inches of rain in 30 minutes.

“Glacier Park will be under the gun again,” Zumpfe says. “Since the rainfall there a few days ago, soil has been destabilized somewhat, so even small rainfall amounts could impact the road.”

Lincoln, Flathead, Sanders and Mineral counties will go into a flash flood watch starting at noon.

Zumpfe says anyone planning outdoor activities today should be prepared to take cover and keep a close ear out for breaking weather reports.

“Road embankments could become destabilized, low roads could be inundated,” Zumpfe says. “Anyone holding outdoor events should keep especially aware of threats for their safety.”

For up-to-the minute updates on weather, check out our Missoula Weather page and get more of Montana’s great outdoors with some of Paul’s other posts, 2011’s Top 20 Montana Outdoor Photos and How to Lose a Staring Contest with an Elk, or visit his blog archive.

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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 photoportfolio.