As most folks in Montana know, it can snow during any month of the year — even June, July, and August.
“It’s not out the realm of possibilities but it’s the amount we are seeing today,” that is surprising,” Alex Lukinbeal, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Missoula, said Monday.
It had snowed 5 to 7 inches in Butte by mid-morning Monday, a little more in Deer Lodge and more than a foot in Walkerville, Lukinbeal said, downing tree limbs and causing some power outages in spots along Interstate 90 between Deer Lodge and Butte.
“A lot of trees are getting stressed,” Lukinbeal said, because they’re ready for summer, not a return to winter.
The heavy, wet snow that started in the early morning hours in the Butte, Deer Lodge, Rocker, and Sheridan areas caused damage to power lines from damaged trees and tree branches, and caused multiple outages, according to Jo Dee Black, public relations specialist with NorthWestern Energy in Butte.
NorthWestern crews were out at dawn to restore power as quickly as possible, safely, and are continuing that work.
Helena and Bozeman division crews are assisting the Butte division crews with repairs. The crews are repairing damaged power lines and equipment and trimming trees that are damaged and weighed down by the heavy snow.
Black urged the public to stay away from low-hanging and downed power lines for safety and report any downed, low-hanging and damaged power lines at northwesternenergy.com or call 888-467-2669.
Because of the high volume of customers reporting outages and damaged lines due to the snow, call wait times to the utility are longer than normal.
Meteorologist Lukinbeal said a few factors were behind the heavy June snowfall, including a spinning, low-pressure system centered near Helena, colder air from Canada and abundant, heavy moisture that continued to wrap around parts of Montana.
“Just the intensity of the precipitation and persistence of it dragged us down to lower snow levels,” Lukinbeal said.
Those dropped to around 5,000 feet, well below the more-than-mile-high 5,538-foot level that Butte sits at in the Summit Valley.
Skies were expected to clear overnight Monday into Tuesday, with the lack of cloud cover and colder-than-normal air mass dropping low temperatures into the upper 20s, forecasters said. That means frost is likely.
Mostly sunny skies were forecast Tuesday through at least Friday, with highs climbing from 57 Tuesday, 66 on Wednesday, 74 on Thursday, and 79 on Friday.
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