snow

The southern end of the Bridger Mountains sport a dusting of snow on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021.

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Despite freezing temperatures at high elevation around Gallatin County and snowfall in Big Sky and parts of West Yellowstone, warmer, drier weather could be on the horizon this week, according to meteorologists.

About four inches of snow blanketed Big Sky and about an inch fell in the West Yellowstone area early Monday morning, according to the National Weather Service. A high pressure weather system is on its way, however, that is predicted to bring warmer and drier weather to much of the area.

Monday was the final day of a weather pattern with winds pushing cooler air from the northwest, National Weather Service forecaster Ray Greely said. A high pressure system moving in, which will bring warmer weather ahead of it and average temperatures behind it, could be over the Bozeman area by Tuesday.

“When these systems run through, it depends on how amplified they are when they come through here,” Greely said. “Sometimes there could be bigger temperature swings with higher temperatures ahead of them and cooler temperatures behind them.”

Much of Gallatin County is still in extreme and exceptional drought conditions — the most acute drought designations, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor’s weekly report. The southern tip of Gallatin County around West Yellowstone is experiencing severe drought.

It is unlikely that Gallatin County will get any more snow this week, Greely said. The rest of September is expected to be warmer and drier, with the high pressure system bringing slightly above average temperatures.

Average highs for temperatures this time of year hang between 70 and 75 degrees, Greely said.

Daylight around the state is also beginning to decrease. The autumnal equinox, which is Wednesday, is when astronomical fall begins and marks when most areas in the Northern Hemisphere start seeing fewer than 12 hours of daylight.

Daylight has been decreasing by about 3 minutes a day since the start of meteorological fall, which began Sept. 1.

La Nina weather patterns, which generally bring more rain and cooler temperatures, are expected for this fall and winter, Greely said. Not all La Ninas behave the same way, with La Nina conditions last year yielding less snow and rain, which negatively impacted the snowpack that feeds rivers and reservoirs in Gallatin County.

“Even though it’s a higher probability, there’s a chance it could be normal or below average precipitation,” Greely said.

Air quality in the Bozeman area was good on Monday, according to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s daily air monitoring report. Air quality in the early hours of Sunday had degraded to unhealthy for sensitive groups, but steadily improved to good by midday and stayed the course into Monday.

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Alex Miller is the county and state government reporter and can be reached at amiller@dailychronicle.com or by phone at 406-582-2648.

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