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As much as 5 inches of snow had already fallen in Billings as of 7 a.m. Thursday, with about 2 more inches expected to accumulate through the rest of the morning, according to the National Weather Service.

Extremely poor road conditions are present throughout much of Montana, including the south-central and central regions of the state. The often-problematic stretch of Montana Highway 3 from Harlowton to Eddie's Corner was closed to traffic Wednesday night before reopening Thursday morning.

Several semi trucks have spun out or slid off Interstate 90 in the Billings area since early Thursday morning, prompting temporary lane closures. That includes blocked traffic in the westbound passing lane about 10 miles west of Hardin. One of the interstate's westbound lanes was also temporarily blocked by a spun-out semi 3 miles east of Columbus.

Roads throughout the region are reportedly covered in snow, ice or a combination of the two, according to the Montana Department of Transportation.


Snow-covered branches hang over a driveway off of Virginia Lane after a snowstorm Thursday, February 15, 2018.

The weather service had received preliminary reports of up to 7 inches of snow in some areas, according to Shawn Palmquist, a meteorologist with the NWS office in Billings.

"Most of the roads are snow-covered," Palmquist said, adding that there are "poor travel conditions across a lot of the state, so just take extra time for your morning commute."

In north-central Montana, road conditions by Thursday morning had deteriorated to the extent that sheriff's offices for an eight-county region requested that residents limit their travel to emergencies only.

The agency also recommended against travel in Fergus, Judith Basin, Liberty and Lewis and Clark counties.

The Great Falls Tribune and the National Weather Service report that Havre and the Milk River Basin have snow totals four feet -- yes, feet -- above the normal total for this time of year. 


Morning Reporter

General assignment reporter for the Billings Gazette.