Montana governor declares “winter storm emergency” over snowfall

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Last Updated Sep 29, 2019 10:28 PM EDT

Montana’s governor declared a “winter storm emergency” tonight after the state was slammed by more than 3 feet of heavy, wet snow. Governor Steve Bullock declared the emergency as storm watches and warnings were posted across the region.

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This early-occurring winter storm blasted the city of Great Falls with more than a foot of snow in September. The snow has covered streets and made driving difficult.

“My recommendation is to stay off the road if you can,” said Sergeant Wade Palen of the Montana Highway Patrol. “The biggest challenges are overnight. The roads will freeze again so they’ll become more ice covered.”

Pedestrians make their way along a snow covered street lined with trees that still have their leaves during a fall snowstorm in Helena, Montana, on Sunday, September 29, 2019. AP

Closer to the mountains, snow now measured in feet is piled high outside homes. With high winds, trees have been knocked down. At one point, thousands lost power.

“When is the last time you’ve seen a September like this? i have never seen a September snow like this,” said National weather service meteorologist  Don Britton.

Britton has lived in Great Falls for more than 40 years. He says this storm is a record breaker.

“That one set back in 1934? That was broken,” he said. “That was a three-day record of over 13 inches of snow. We’ve already had over 14 inches of snow in two days, so that record is pretty much obliterated.”

The snowstorm also hit parts of Idaho.

And in Spokane, Washington, the storm marked the first time the city recorded snow on this date since officials began keeping records in 1881. Forecasters expect the winter weather to continue through the night.

“Hunker down, stay warm, and try to avoid travel,” Britton advised.

The storm is expected to move out of the area by early tomorrow morning. Some schools will be closed Monday, but all of this snow is expected to melt by the end of the week, and everyone here can get back to fall.

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