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Wind storm lives up to billing, pummels Flathead Lake

Posted at 3:11 PM, Nov 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-28 17:11:33-05

Our StormTracker Weather Team was warning people about a wind event heading our way for several days – and it arrived on Wednesday

Shortly after midnight on Tuesday strong gusts of winds began rocking the Flathead and Mission valleys and by 2 a.m., the area -- as well as the rest of Northwest Montana -- was officially under a High Wind Warning.

The storm fully lived up to its potential as wind gusts between 35 mph and 45 mph were recorded up and down Flathead Lake -- on both the eastern and western sides.

In addition to downed trees and power outages, white-capped waves several feet high have surged across Flathead Lake. Due to the strong easterly winds whipping down the mountains and through the canyons, the western side of the lake has experienced the brunt of the waves.

It’s certainly not unheard of to see wind events out of the east a time or two over the course of the year, but the origins of this wind event were very rare.

Typically, when we see winds this strong and waves this high along Flathead Lake, it’s due to an Arctic weather system moving over the Divide. But in this case, it’s due to a large storm based in Northern California and Southern Oregon, making this event unique to once every few years.

Although the winds won’t be as strong as on Wednesday, Thanksgiving Day will also be breezy at times…