Winter storm

A dusting of snow caps the Beartooth Mountains last month.

Autumn is expected to bring snow with it this year.

The National Weather Service is forecasting a winter storm, possibly of historic proportions, to descend upon Montana this weekend. A winter storm warning for the Northern Rockies, Rocky Mountain Front and plains in north-central Montana will go into effect Friday evening through Sunday afternoon.

It also warns that north-central and central counties could experience strong winds of up to 65 mph on Thursday as the storm moves in.

The weather service warns that blizzards are possible, with total snow accumulation between 18 to 36 inches. It predicts the storm could set new records for low temperatures and snow accumulation for September.

Bozeman and the surrounding areas are likely to experience milder effects of the storm and may not get snow until Saturday evening, according to the weather service. Northwest Montana near Glacier National Park will be hit hardest.

Jane Fogleman, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Great Falls, said the low pressure system is coming off the west coast of Canada. She said the last time the state experienced a storm like this in early autumn was more than 80 years ago.

“It has happened, but it’s rare. The most similar occurrence was a storm that happened in 1934,” Fogleman said.

The winter storm advisory warns that the snow and low temperatures could cause widespread power outages and damage trees and foliage. Fogleman said the snow will be wet and heavy, making fallen tree branches and slick roads a concern.

An extension or expansion of winter storm warnings is likely over the weekend.

The National Weather Service’s nine to 14-day outlook shows that cold weather could continue through early October.

Shaylee Ragar can be reached at sragar@dailychronicle.com or at 406-582-2607. Follow her on Twitter @shay_ragar.

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