Montana is blanketed in feet of snow

It's not even October yet

By Madeline Holcombe, Judson Jones and Theresa Waldrop, CNN

(CNN) - Record amounts of snow have fallen in parts of Montana over the past few days -- and it's only September.

Great Falls, Montana, got 9.7 inches of snow Saturday, the highest one-day September snow amount for that city, followed by 9.6 inches Sunday, the second highest, the National Weather Service said.

But even higher amounts fell in other areas of Montana from Friday into Monday morning. Browning got a whopping 4 feet, according to the weather service. The Dupuyer area got 37 inches, and the Heart Butte area saw 34 inches.

"This has never happened, ever" in September, said Ray Greely with the weather service in Great Falls.

Great Falls' two-day accumulation of 19.3 inches of snow is the second highest recorded in that city for any time of the year, the weather service said, behind the 24.2 inches from April 27-28, 2009.

Temperatures in the Great Falls area are forecast to reach record or near-record lows Monday night, the weather service said.

Choteau, Montana, experienced downed trees and power lines over the weekend, making it dangerous for people on the road, according to CNN affiliate KRTV.

The station reported several power outages across the area, including in Simms, Sun Prairie and parts of Great Falls.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock declared a state of emergency across the state to help local municipalities deal with the storm.

"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.

Missoula, part of what locals call the Banana Belt because of its relatively mild climate, had much less snow (about 1.6 inches as of noon Sunday) than some areas. But even that was enough for a September snow record for that city, breaking the old 1934 mark of 1.5 inches, the National Weather Service tweeted.

 

Unexpected and destructive

 

While snow in September may sound shocking in some parts of the country, CNN meteorologist Ivan Cabrera says that it is not that uncommon for the area. What is surprising is the amount, he said.

Making matters worse, Montana was still experiencing summer-like conditions right before the snow hit, Greely said.

While it's too soon to know the full impact, crops will probably be lost, and cattle could suffer, Greely said.

"Before the storm, we hadn't had an overnight freeze" this month, Greely said. "We went right into this storm."

 

Montanans capture images of snow's effects

 

Montana residents didn't waste time in showing how the snow is affecting them.

Carlene Whitney Salois took a picture of the accumulating snow and said the totals are "adding up."

The National Weather Service in Great Falls tweeted out pictures from northern Montana showing highways with up to a foot of snow on the road.

Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Amanda Villa tweeted pictures of the dangerous impacts of snow with a car crash on a road in central Montana.

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