Surprise snow dampens morning commute in Helena

Nolan Lister

A surprise snow storm in Helena made the Wednesday morning commute a harrowing one.

A heavy band of snow initially forecast to pass south of the Helena area was driven directly into the Queen City by a surface low pressure system centered over the Bozeman and northern Wyoming region, according to Meteorologist Rosemary Webb at the National Weather Service Great Falls Office.

The storm dumped upwards of 5 inches of snow on the valley in about four hours, according to local spotters’ reports to NWS.

The percentage of water to snow during a storm is called the snow ratio, and the typical snow ratio for the area is about 12:1, or 12 inches of snow to every 1 inch of water.

Webb said Wednesday morning’s snow storm saw about a 10:1 snow ratio.

“So Helena saw a little more snowfall than expected, and it was a little wetter than usual,” she said.

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According to NWS data taken at the Helena Regional Airport, the heavy stuff did not start coming down until about 7:30 a.m. and lasted until about 9 a.m. before petering out around noon.

The wet snow

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