Powerful September snowstorm slams northwestern Montana

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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. Up to a foot of snow could fall in Great Falls, Montana, which would break the record set for September snowfall set in 1934, CBS News’ Carter Evans reports.

A winter storm warning is in effect until Monday morning for portions of north central Montana, the National Weather Service said. Near blizzard conditions are possible, the NWS said.

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The National Weather Service in Great Falls reports 16 inches 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 by the time the storm winds down Sunday night, said meteorologist Megan Syner.

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The City of Choteau said on Saturday morning that there are already several downed power lines and downed trees which is creating a very dangerous situation; they urge people to stay home if at all possible, CBS Great Falls affiliate KRTV reports.

Montana State Highway Patrol Trooper Amanda Villa, who is stationed in Helena, posted a photo on Twitter of an overturned car as a warning to drivers to be careful on the wet roads.

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 reports.

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 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 reports.

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