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Arctic Air is Bottled Up, Record Warmth is Possible

Posted at 5:00 PM, Jan 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-23 20:45:43-05

So far this winter is very comparable to last winter. There have been some flashes of arctic cold and snow, but much of December and January have been mild with below average snow. The winter of 2018-2019 flipped a switch in the beginning of February as Montana would go on to endure one of the coldest stretches in its history. This year, that "switch" does not appear imminent and the mild conditions will prevail until some of the arctic air bottled up to our north gets loose. That certainly will not happen until February at the earliest as the rest of January will have more of a Pacific influence of milder air. The flow from the Pacific will also produce more precipitation west of the Continental Divide. So the month will likely finish with below average snowfall. There is some snow in the immediate future, just not much in the lower elevations. Friday will be a mild day with highs in the 40s to around 50. Afternoon snow showers will mainly fly in the mountains. The last weekend of January will be mild and partly cloudy to start off. Highs on Saturday will push 50 in parts of the state. Sunday will have more cloud cover with some snow west of the Divide. Limited amounts of snow, possibly mixed with rain, will come down east of the Divide later in the day. Travel over the mountain passes may be a little tricky with a few inches of snow accumulating. Another round of generally mountain snow showers will come through on Tuesday. For the final few days of January, another warm air mass will move in with highs possibly into the mid and upper 50s by next Friday. An arctic airmass could return to Montana by the middle of February, but it looks nothing like what hit the state last year.
Have a great day.
Curtis Grevenitz