Mother Nature caused some literal whiplash across western Montana Saturday, first teasing people with spring-like record-breaking warmth, then whipping the region with winds that flipped a semi-truck and downed power-lines, leading to outages and road closures.
A 100 mph gust was recorded at Point 6 above Snowbowl, at an elevation of 7,897 feet on Saturday, while the top of Mount Sentinel saw a 96 mph gust at 1:30 p.m., said Bob Nester of the National Weather Service.
In the valleys, Missoula saw peak gusts of 56 mph, while winds of 51 mph were recorded in Bonner, 55 mph in Stevensville, and 47 mph in Kalispell, Nester said.
Temperatures likewise climbed Saturday, all the way to 60 degrees in Missoula, setting a record for January and February both, Nester said.
“This will be the warmest day we’ve ever had this early in the year,” he said. “We’ve never hit 60 between Jan. 1 and Feb. 1, and the same goes through the end of February. … The last time we hit 60 in February was in 2006, on the last day of the month.”
But the winds made it tough to enjoy the balmy temperatures.
Deputy Jonathan Stineford with the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office said crews responded to power outages and downed lines across the city. Along with downed lines, he said traffic lights malfunctioned.