Winter Storm Emergency Declared in Montana


(Reuters) - It looked like midwinter in the northern Rocky Mountains on Sunday as a major storm dumped record snowfall of over 3 feet (91 cm) in places and hard-hit Montana declared a state of emergency to clear blocked roads.

An extra 1 to 2 feet (30-61 cm) of snow was expected overnight, with winter storm warnings in effect for western Montana and the mountains of northern Washington and northern Idaho. Snow was also expected in areas of California, Nevada, Wyoming, Oregon and Idaho.

Montana Governor Steve Bullock called an emergency on Sunday after 40 inches (101 cm) of snow fell in towns like Browning, forcing highway closures and a string of road accidents.

Temperatures were expected to drop to record lows in the 20s F (-6.6 C) or below on Sunday night across western Montana and north-central Idaho, according to the National Weather Service.

“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,” Bullock said in a statement.

Strong winds risked blizzard conditions in some areas, with blowing snow disrupting travel into Monday even after the snow was expected to wind down overnight, the weather service reported.

Reporting by Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico; Editing by Peter Cooney