A winter storm expected to hit Billings beginning Tuesday night produce a foot of snowfall by Thursday, according to the National Weather Service in Billings.
A winter storm warning for portions of central and south-central Montana took effect late Tuesday night and will expire at noon Thursday.
The snow will be wet and heavy and will be falling most rapidly between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. Wednesday, according to Nick Vertz, a meteorologist with the weather service. Heavy snowfall will also create poor visibility in the area.
Vertz said anytime the area sees heavy snow like this there is a chance for broken tree limbs and power outages.
"We expect a lot of that to fall Wednesday morning. It will slowly start to taper off in the afternoon as it continues to move east," Vertz said.
The storm is expected to begin with rain in Livingston around 9 p.m. Billings is forecast to see brief rain late Tuesday night before a cold front passes through, steeply dropping temperatures and resulting in snow.
The rain and early snow melt could refreeze on roads, creating icy driving conditions. People should give themselves extra time if they plan on driving in Wednesday travel conditions described as "hazardous," and "very difficult," according to the weather service.
Wednesday is expected to bring a high near 31 and an overnight low of around 15.
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Winds are less of a concern around Billings than they are in areas to the south and east, where gusty winds could cause blowing and drifting snow.
A forecast graphic published at about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning showed Billings in an area with potential for snowfall between 8 inches and a foot of snow by Thursday. That's an increase from a forecast published Monday showing Billings with a chance at between 6 and 8 inches of snowfall.
The storm will hit a wide area of Montana. To the east, Hardin is expected to get between 8 inches and a foot. Similar snowfall is possible in Roundup.
Forsyth, Hysham, Lame Deer, Broadus, Ekalaka and Baker are all within an area that could see between 6 and 8 inches of accumulation.
To the west of Billings, Big Timber, Columbus and Red Lodge could get between a foot and 18 inches of snow. Nye could see snow accumulation between 18 inches and 2 feet.