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Weather

A pedestrian carrying skis walks across a slushy intersection on Grand Avenue on Sunday.

Road conditions in Eastern Montana are expected to continue deteriorating into Monday as a large winter storm continues pushing heavy snow and powerful winds through the state.

By Sunday afternoon, sustained wind speeds in the Glasgow area had ramped up to 20 mph, with gusts in the 30s, said to Ruth Ebert, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Glasgow.

A large winter storm had dropped around 6 inches of snow in parts of Billings by late afternoon Sunday, when the heaviest snowfall had already passed. The storm was expected to die down by Sunday evening, said Brian Tesar with Billings’ NWS office.

But farther north and east, up to a foot of snow was still expected to fall into Monday in an area that included most of Garfield, Valley, Daniels, Sheridan and Roosevelt counties.

"It's actually a system that extends down to Colorado and as it rotates through and lifted up, it's kind of moving east and northeast, (so) the strongest part of the snow is just sitting over us right now," Ebert said Sunday afternoon. "Until it moves farther onto the plains, it's going to be funneling everything over us right now."

Blowing and drifting snow throughout the region is likely to persist well into Monday, with substantial winds expected as far south as Ekalaka.

Ebert added that warmer temperatures earlier in the day had allowed some melting to occur on roadways before they froze again, adding the presence of black ice to already perilous travel conditions.

The Montana Department of Transportation issued "severe driving conditions" warnings for several highway stretches throughout the day Sunday, mostly moving from Central Montana to the north and east as the day progressed. That designation is the most extreme before MDT closes a roadway, and is meant to limit travel to only necessary circumstances.

Traffic cameras operated by the Montana Department of Transportation showed several rural highways in the central and northeastern portions of the state vanishing under swirling snowdrifts by Sunday afternoon.

Ebert offered some succinct advice for motorists: “Don’t go if you don’t have to.”

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Morning Reporter

General assignment reporter for the Billings Gazette.