The ultimate test of the strength of any Montana storm is whether it is powerful enough to disrupt a basketball tournament.
A storm that blew hard starting late Wednesday night landed in northeast Montana with such force that the District 2C girls tournament games scheduled for Thursday in Sidney were postponed until Friday.
“A decision will be made (Friday) for the completion of the tournament,” a statement from Sidney High School said.
It's not a matter of too much snowfall — much of northeastern Montana saw between 2 and 5 inches Thursday.
But winds of 20 to 35 mph whipped it into drifts that closed roads all over the area for part of the day and left those that remained open in severe winter driving condition, according to the Montana Department of Transportation.
Visibility was reduced to zero with whiteout conditions in some areas, the Weather Service reported.
Some, such as Highway 24 between Glasgow and Opheim, still had severe driving conditions Thursday evening, and most reported scattered snow and ice. A portion of Highway 13 between Wolf Point and the Canadian border remained closed.
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The storm spent most of the day battering the region with high winds but made its way out of Montana and into Canada and North Dakota by late afternoon. However, it left in its wake several inches of snow and a wind chill advisory in effect until 11 a.m. Friday.
The NWS advisory says wind chills could drop to between 20 and 40 below in parts of Daniels, Roosevelt, McCone, Dawson and Valley counties.
Victor Proton, a meteorologist with the weather service's Glasgow office, said areas around Wolf Point, Opheim, Glasgow and Plentywood received between 3 and 5 inches of snow, while Glendive, Malta and Sidney got between 1 and 3 inches.
The Richland County Sheriff's Office asked people to stay home Thursday and recommended emergency travel only. Visibility had been reduced to less than half a mile.
Games had been scheduled Thursday beginning at 3 p.m. (Bainville-Savage). Other games that were on the schedule included Richey-Lambert and Circle-Culbertson.
Gazette reporter Zach Benoit contributed to this article.
Lorna Thackeray can be reached at 657-1314 or firstname.lastname@example.org.