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Winter weather sneak peek in Montana may not hint of snowy Utah future

(Photo: Solitude Mountain Resort)

SALT LAKE CITY — There’s been a slew of cold weather rolling across the Rockies this weekend, bringing with it record snowfall in parts of Montana – but experts say it doesn’t necessarily mean Utah’s fate is sealed when it comes to the winter ahead.

Great Falls, Montana, saw 9.7 inches of snow on Saturday and 9.6 inches on Sunday, setting the state’s #1 and #2 highest one-day accumulations for their city, according to the National Weather Service.

Other areas of the state saw up to 4 feet of snow. With the wintry weather, Governor Steve Bullock issued an executive order declaring a winter storm emergency for the state.

“With an unprecedented winter storm throwing our state a surprise in September, state and local governments are working closely together to protect the health and safety of Montanans and our top priority is making sure that happens,” Bullock said. “Montanans should heed all warnings from state and local officials, travel safely, and be cautious during this time.”

What will winter look like in Utah?

While we didn’t get nearly as much snow as Montana, KSL Meteorologist Grant Weyman told Dave and Dujanovic on Monday that these early snowstorms don’t necessarily mean that we’ll have a big bad winter.

“We can get a freak early storm that’ll whet the appetite for a ski season, but we know from the past that we can get a band at the beginning of the season then it might be dry for a while. It doesn’t really tell us anything,” he said.

“There’s a 3-month outlook right now that says we may be a little warmer than usual,” he continued. “The long-range predictions, you have to take with a grain of salt and they’re not really telling us much at this point.”

Weyman says Monday morning was the coldest day we’ve had since the beginning of May. He believes we can expect cold temperatures throughout the rest of the week, followed by a weekend warm-up.

Prepping the roads

Utah Department of Transportation spokesman John Gleason says UDOT isn’t too worried about any big winter storms just yet because the ground temperature tends to keep the snow from sticking to the roadways.

He said their current top priority is what they call “preservation projects” to prepare the roads for the winter weather by doing things like sealing cracks to keep water out.

“Those are important projects to make sure that we can keep our roads well maintained during the winter months,” Gleason said. He added, UDOT is also getting its work trucks suited up with plows and ready to go as soon as the snow starts sticking.