HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Strong winds and heavy snow caused power outages and temporary road closures in northwestern Montana as a wintry storm threatened to drop several feet of snow in some areas of the northern Rocky Mountains.
The National Weather Service in Great Falls reported 16 inches (41 centimeters) of snow had fallen near Marias Pass just south of Glacier National Park by early Saturday afternoon. The area is forecast to see a total of up to 4 feet (1.2 meters) by the time the storm winds down Sunday night, said meteorologist Megan Syner.
Gusty winds on Saturday knocked down trees and damaged power lines, causing scattered outages in northwestern Montana and along the Rocky Mountain Front. Up to 30 large trees were down on the east side of Flathead Lake, the Missoulian reported.
Emergency travel only was recommended in some areas along the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountain Front and treacherous travel was reported around the region, including over Rogers Pass on Montana Highway 200 northwest of Helena, Syner said.
Following the storm, temperatures are expected to drop into the teens and 20s (around minus 13 Celsius) across much of western and central Montana overnight Monday.
The weekend storm system was also bringing strong winds and snow to the mountains of northern Washington and northern Idaho.
Homeless shelters in Spokane, Washington, were relaxing their entrance policies and the city was preparing a backup shelter, if needed.
Dave Wall, a Union Gospel Mission spokesman, said the shelter’s director and Spokane’s mayor agreed the mission would not enforce its drug and alcohol policies while temperatures were below freezing, as long as patrons weren’t acting unsafe, The Spokesman Review reported.