The first significant winter storm of the season is set to hit the northern Rockies and Plains this week, bringing with it heavy snowfall, strong winds, and record-breaking cold temperatures.
AccuWeather meteorologists warn that the storm could lead to major travel disruptions and hazardous conditions.
Last week, the region experienced dry and near-record warm conditions. However, the upcoming storm is expected to bring a dramatic shift in weather patterns. The storm will unfold in waves from Monday through Friday, affecting more than half a dozen states.
Preparing for the storm
AccuWeather Meteorologist Joseph Bauer advises residents to prepare for the winter weather by unpacking winter gear like shovels, coats, hats, and gloves. It's also a good idea to check snow removal equipment to ensure it's in working condition.
Snowfall and visibility concerns
The storm is expected to bring locally more than a foot of snow, reducing visibility due to strong winds. The snow and cold will be particularly impactful for morning and evening commutes in cities such as Billings, Helena, and Missoula, Montana.
Record-breaking cold to follow
The storm will be followed by an Arctic air mass, bringing the coldest air of the season. Temperature readings 15-35 degrees below the historical average are expected in Montana and Wyoming by Thursday night. For many, this will be the first subzero readings of the season.
The cold air mass could linger into the following week, affecting plans for outdoor activities like trick-or-treating on Halloween.