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Storm systems bring gusty winds, snow

Camas Prairie, mountain passes to see big impacts

Blowing snow and winds up to 54 mph were recorded in Grangeville on Monday, Dec. 19, around noon.

Photo by David Rauzi
Blowing snow and winds up to 54 mph were recorded in Grangeville on Monday, Dec. 19, around noon.

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Updates on weather conditions available through NWS Missoula:

Travel conditions available through Idaho Transportation Department:

UPDATE, Dec. 19 – Idaho County awoke Monday to blowing snow, driven by the first of two storm systems that will impact the region – across North Central Idaho and western Montana – through Tuesday evening.

The National Weather Service Missoula office forecasts by Tuesday, Dec. 20, a moist system from the Pacific will bring abundant mountain snow, intense at times with snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour. Late Tuesday afternoon and evening, a strong cold front will move through the Northern Rockies with possible intense snow bands behind.

Gusty winds began across the Camas Prairie early Monday morning, averaging in the mid-20s for several hours starting around 3:30 a.m., and by noon gusting to 54 mph with visibility dropping at times to three-quarters of a mile. By noon, Riggins was reporting gusts nearly to 40 mph and Cottonwood at 54 mph.

“Ground blizzard” conditions may make travel treacherous, and some isolated roadways could see enough drifting snow to become impassable. In the valleys, blowing snow is expected to persist through Monday night.

For Grangeville and the Camas Prairie, winds will subside by Monday evening with 1 to 2 inches of snow possible. This, combined with winds, may bring blowing snow with visibility less than one-quarter mile at times.

Heavy snow and windy conditions are forecast to continue into Tuesday, with strong south winds in Grangeville into the Camas Prairie resulting in reduced visibility – less than a quarter-mile – and treacherous travel conditions.

As of noon Monday, a NWS high wind warning was in effect for the Camas Prairie for Tuesday (Dec. 20), 1 to 10 a.m. Winds from the south to southwest increasing by dawn to 40 mph with gusts around 60 mph.

On Tuesday, travel along U.S. Highway 12 and Lolo Pass is expected to be difficult and potentially dangerous due to snow coupled with windy conditions. Blowing snow is expected to be a continued concern along U.S. Highway 95 at White Bird Hill.

On Lolo Pass, expect 1 to 2 inches of snow per hour on Monday, and 8 to 12 inches total by Tuesday.

Apart from a break on Wednesday, chance of snow is expected through Friday; a 50 percent chance in Elk City, 30 percent for the Riggins region, and a 60 percent chance on Thursday for the Camas Prairie and slight chance through to Christmas Day. For Kooskia and vicinity, a 60 percent chance of rain is expected by Thursday with a chance of snow into Christmas Day.


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