GREAT FALLS, Montana (CNN) — A significant winter storm will blast through the northern Rocky Mountains this weekend.
“This has the potential to be a historically significant early-season snow event,” the National Weather Service in Great Falls, Montana, said.
A cold front with strong winds and near-record cold air will move through Idaho and Montana on Friday. It will be followed by another low-pressure system that will stall over the region Friday night through Sunday.
With unseasonably cold air already in place, wet, heavy snow is likely from the valleys to the mountain tops. A winter storm watch has been issued in southern Montana as a result. Cold weather and possible snow are also predicted in eastern Idaho, although no winter storm warnings have been issued in this area.
The forecast for this storm looks eerily similar to a storm that struck Montana in 1934. That storm produced prolific amounts of snow in late September over North Central Montana.
This weekend 15 to 36 inches of snow could fall across the plains, with even higher amounts in the mountains.
Winds will be near tropical storm-force (over 39 mph+) with gusts as strong as hurricane-force (74 mph+). These winds combined with the snow that is forecast will likely lead to blizzard conditions.
Winter storm warnings will be in effect for portions of Montana from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Sunday.
National Weather Service meteorologists say they’re confident in the forecast. Given the expected heavy, wet nature of the snow, a host of potentially dangerous impacts could result.
Widespread tree damage and downed power lines are possible, resulting in power outages. Agricultural damage could be caused by the record cold temperatures.
Livestock is also at risk and the National Weather Service warns, “make sure livestock and pets also have the essentials that they will need during the storm.”