It was only two years ago that winter dropped into Butte on Nov. 1 and decided to stay for months.
Even if Wednesday isn’t the beginning of dé jà vu all over again, folks in Butte and southwest Montana can say goodbye to any “fair weather 50s” for the next week and probably longer as snow and highs in the 30s take over, forecasters say.
Even the outlook eight to 14 days out calls for below-normal temperatures, said Bob Nester, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Missoula.
Of course, the farther into November it gets, the likelier winter is settling in for the long haul. So Wednesday might kick off a repeat of 2015.
“I think it’s fair enough to say that once we have our first real winter event, it’s kind of here to stay,” Nester said.
A complicated weather pattern was expected to impact the Northern Rockies starting Tuesday night and last through the weekend, first with a cold front pushing in from the east.
Butte was expected to get anywhere from 2 to 6 inches of snow Wednesday into Thursday morning with Homestake Pass getting 8 to 10 inches, the weather service said.
Winter weather advisories were issued Tuesday afternoon for Glacier Park southward through the Seeley/Swan region and into Butte as snow was expected to develop along the Continental Divide and become fairly intense Wednesday morning.
The advisory in Butte was for midnight Tuesday to 6 p.m. Wednesday, with 1 to 2 inches of snow expected during the day Wednesday and rain and snow during the evening, with 1 to 3 more inches of snow possible during the evening.
The high Wednesday was forecast at 39 with similar readings through Saturday before dropping 10 degrees for Sunday. The high that day is forecast at 29.
A warm frontal feature will push the bulk of the moisture into northwest Montana Wednesday night into Thursday. A trough of low pressure was expected to dig along the Pacific Coast on Friday, shifting the moisture and colder air back to the south. Then a cold front swings through the area from the west, pushing moisture into southwest Montana.
Some snow is likely in Butte and surrounding areas Thursday night through the weekend. Lows will be in the lower 20s through Saturday, but only reach the mid- to upper-teens early Sunday and Monday mornings, the weather service said.
November was rather mild in western and southwest Montana last November, but in 2015, Butte got its first significant snow on Nov. 1 and winter was on.
It’s too early to say that will happen again, but Nester said it very well could.
“The days of temperatures at least in the 50s are basically over,” he said.
The average high in Butte on Nov. 1 is 48, dropping to 40 by mid-November and to 32 on Nov. 30, he said.