Arctic air moving south from Alaska is expected to keep Billings recording below-zero temperatures for several days next week, according to the National Weather Service in Billings.
Thursday morning the weather service was forecasting the cold to be prolonged, possibly lasting as long as two weeks. The coldest temperatures next week are expected Tuesday and Wednesday, when lows in Billings could fall somewhere between minus 15 and minus 20.
At this point in January high temperatures in Billings are typically around the mid-30s and lows are usually somewhere in the mid-teens, said Nick Vertz, a meteorologist with NWS Billings.
During the upcoming cold some parts of Montana could see low temperatures of minus 30.
This week, snow beginning Thursday afternoon was expected to let up by Friday morning, accumulating 1 to 2 inches. Temperatures will dip down into the 20s Friday, before down-slope winds off the mountains briefly warm the area up again Saturday when highs in Billings could reach 35.
"We'll definitely start to see the cool down late Saturday night, and then into Sunday, but just how much of a cool down and when that will occur is kind of iffy," Vertz said Thursday afternoon.
Thursday, the weather service was forecasting highs of 24 and 11 for Sunday and Monday. Vertz said there's much more certainty that the worst of the cold next week will fall on Tuesday and Wednesday.
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Highs for both days are expected to be minus 1. It's possible Monday will also have a high below zero. Winds aren't expected to be particularly strong during the early part of next week, but Vertz said wind chill could be in the minus 10 to minus 20 range across much of the area.
In anticipation of the coming cold, NWS Billings issued a hazardous weather outlook Thursday morning that will extend "Sunday through Wednesday, and perhaps all of next week due to "Bitterly cold temperatures and periods of snow."
The outlook further describes the coming weather as "a significant cold snap with dangerously low temperatures."
People are advised to prepare for prolonged cold temperatures and keep an emergency supply kit at home and in vehicles.
The outlook generally affects portions of central Montana, south-central Montana, southeast Montana and north-central Wyoming.
Specific counties within the hazardous weather outlook include: northeastern and southwestern Yellowstone, Musselshell, Treasure, northern and southern Rosebud, Custer, Fallon, northern Stillwater, Powder River, Carter, northern Park, Golden Valley, northern and southeastern Carbon, northern Sweet Grass, southern Wheatland and both northern and southern Big Horn County.
Other areas included in the outlook are: the Red Lodge Foothills, the Absaroka/Beartooth Mountains, the Crazy Mountains, the Bighorn Canyon, Pryor, northern and northeast Bighorn Mountains, Melville Foothills, and the Sheridan Foothills.