Blizzard conditions headed for Northwest Montana

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A snow plow clears Big Mountain Road on Feb. 5. (Matt Baldwin/Daily Inter Lake)

Blizzard conditions were expected to bear down on parts of Northwest Montana overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday.

According to the National Weather Service in Missoula, the mountains along the Montana and Idaho border and around Glacier National Park could see new snow accumulations of 8 to 15 inches by mid-day Wednesday.

Strong westerly winds with gusts up to 80 mph were possible in the higher terrain. Dangerous driving conditions were anticipated over mountain passes, including Marias pass on U.S. 2 where a blizzard warning was issued. The worst conditions were expected from Tuesday evening through Wednesday morning.

A blizzard warning means severe winter weather conditions are expected. Falling and blowing snow with strong winds and poor visibilities are likely, leading to whiteout conditions.

“Travel could be very difficult to near impossible,” the Weather Service warned. “If traveling on U.S. 2 from East Glacier to Marias Pass or U.S. 89 from Kiowa to Saint Mary, consider delaying travel if possible.”

A winter storm warning was issued for Bad Rock Canyon, Essex, Marias Pass, Polebridge, and on Highway 83 from Bigfork to Swan Lake, About 8 to 10 inches of snow was expected in these areas.

A winter weather advisory was issued for the Flathead and Mission valleys through Wednesday morning. Lower elevations were expected to see less snow due to downsloping, with the valleys poised to pick up 2-4 inches. However, the National Weather Services warns that some narrower valleys of Northwest Montana would see 2 to 8 inches of snow.

The new snow and strong wind will also create dangerous avalanche conditions across the area, the Weather Service warned. Travel in avalanche terrain was not recommended. Check www.avalanche.org for the latest forecast.

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