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When the Snow Flies: Interpreting Weather Reports and Preparing Yourself

North Central Montana is due for its first snow storm of the year this weekend, beginning on Friday,

September 26, 2019 and continuing through the weekend. How do you know whether it will interrupt or divert your plans?

Listen to the weather on your phone, radio, or television

  • Listen for the words, “confidence levels”. This will tell you if the weather models that the meteorologists are using are coming into agreement or not. If the reporter says “high” confidence, then you know the event is very likely to happen.
  • Use phone apps that have emergency weather alerts. A weather watch means that storms could happen. A weather warning means that the storms are already in progress and have been observed nearby.

Know your geographic area.

Certain precipitation levels (rain or snow) fall to different depths depending on your location and elevation. For example, know if you live in the area called the Rocky Mountain Front as this weekend, the most snow and wind will occur there.

Be prepared.

  • Check your emergency kit. Do you have 72 hours’ worth of food, water, and other essentials ready in your home or business?
  • Are you responsible for livestock and can get them stocked up on feed and secure the water where they are? Will you be able to access them in the event of a storm?
  • Is your vehicle fueled up and has its own emergency kit?
  • Are your phones charged and do you have back-up electricity sources, if needed.

Monitor the Situation

  • Keep your ears and eyes open to changing conditions.
  • Move parked vehicles from under trees as snow will accumulate quickly and overload trees while the leaves are still on them. Branches breaking will be likely. Power lines could be compromised.
  • If heavy snow falls, monitor your roof and know when to knock snow off to prevent buckling.
  • Limit travel to NECESSARY travel only.

For current conditions, the National Weather Service has radar and more: