Helena crushed a snowfall record Thursday, and was on the way to doing the same Friday as winter storm Brutus brutalized the town.
Helena saw 8.8 inches of snow Thursday. The previous snowfall record for Nov. 8 was 2.3 inches, set in 1903.
Zach Uttech, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Great Falls, said the south-west flowing air mass from Canada has created an ideal scenario for widespread snow over the region, blanketing Montana with an abundance of snow.
Total snow accumulation could hit nearly 14 inches in downtown Helena, which would put Thursday and Friday among the top for highest snowfall in a two-day period for the month of November, Uttech said. As of noon on Friday, the two-day total was 12.6 inches.
Higher elevations should see an additional 5-10 inches, he added.
The snow has been so plentiful that Kevin Taylor, owner of Great Divide Ski Area, is opening the Good Luck Chair from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets will be $20.
“The snow started at 8 a.m. (Thursday),” Taylor said Friday. “We now have about 20 inches on the ground and it’s still snowing, 1,100-foot visibility right now. No wind, that’s just snow. It’s as good as you could hope for. It’s a fabulous start.”
Bruce Parker, athletic director at Carroll College, said Saturday’s game against Dickinson State is a go-ahead.
“First of all, this isn’t our first snow game and people here really put the jets on to get on board.”
Even though Carroll College has experience with winter games, Parker said this storm has been especially difficult getting the field ready because the snow was wet and heavy.
“We have probably 40 people on the ground preparing the stadium and the stands,” he said. “The track team and student work force are clearing out the stands, so people will be comfortable.”
He said there were also three machines being used Friday to move snow.
The storm has thrown a wrench in other sports teams’ as well.
The Rocky Mountain College and MSU Northern football game has been moved from Herb Klindt Field, which was scheduled for a noon kickoff, to Daylis Stadium at 6 p.m.
“It didn’t make any sense to put anyone at risk with this weather, so we’d rather MSU Northern arrive safely to play,” Robert Beers, Rocky Mountain College athletic director, said in a press release.
The Class AA football playoff game between Great Falls C.M. Russell High School and Butte High has also been rescheduled. They will play Saturday at 1 p.m in Butte at Naranche Stadium. Montana High School Association reported the rescheduling occurred because the Montana Department of Transportation had issued a severe driving conditions warning on Interstate 15 between Great Falls and Wolf Creek.
As of 4 p.m. Friday, Montana Highway Patrol reported 46 wrecks across the state, including four jack-knifed semitrailers.
According to NWS on Friday, the snowfall should start tapering off in the evening, slowing down to scattered showers Saturday.
“The main thing now is preparing for the cold temperatures,” Uttech said. “After the wind dies down, Helena could get into the single digits Saturday.”
He also said Saturday night will probably dip below zero with a 15 to 20 below zero wind chill.
Uttech said Sunday and Monday should be sunny, which would help clear off the roads and sidewalks. But he did emphasize that the melted water will probably refreeze after sundown, making things slippery.
The temperatures over the next week or so should stay low, primarily because as Uttech explained it, “When we get this much snow on the ground, it’s hard to warm up.”