First Blizzard of the Season Breaks October Snow Record in Havre, Montana; Up to 30 Inches Reported

The first blizzard of the season has resulted in widespread power outages and downed trees in parts of Montana. Treacherous travel conditions and additional power outages are possible through Tuesday, as this early-season snowstorm continues to sweep through the Rockies.

 Unlike the snow the Rockies experienced in September, this storm is having a greater impact since valley locations are also being affected, in addition to typical mountain areas.Havre, Montana, has seen 14.8 inches of heavy, wet snow as of late Monday night, which would set a new record for highest snow total in October there if verified. The previous record was 8.6 inches, which fell on Oct. 4, 1914.

Many large tree branches are down, and all of Havre was without power the Hill County Sheriff reported around 10 p.m. Monday.

 According to the National Weather Service (NWS) in Great Falls, this storm was effectively a blizzard in the Havre area, especially considering the severe impacts. A blizzard occurs when the following conditions are met for at least three hours: sustained winds or frequent gusts to at least 35 mph and considerable falling and/or blowing snow that frequently reduces visibility to less than a quarter mile.

The heaviest estimated snow amount from this storm is 30 inches in Rocky Boy, Montana. Drifts in at least one location were estimated to be eight feet high.

Top snowfall totals as of late Tuesday morning include:

  • 30 inches in Rocky Boy, Montana
  • 20.4 inches near Encampment, Wyoming
  • 18 inches near Steamboat Springs, Colorado
  • 16 inches near Cameron Pass, Colorado
  • Up to 15 inches near Breckenridge, Colorado
  • 14.8 inches in Havre, Montana (many large tree branches down; sporadic power outages around town)
  • 14 inches at the Vail Pass rest area on Interstate 70 in Colorado
  • 12 inches near Laramie, Wyoming
  • 10 inches near Avon, Colorado

The snow first affected the Colorado Rockies Sunday night into Monday.

Interstate 70 was closed in Colorado between Vail and Copper Mountain for a time Monday morning due to accidents and vehicles sliding off the icy road. Shelters were opened to take in stranded travelers in the area.

More than a foot of snow accumulated in many locations, including an estimated 14 inches of snow that was measured at the Vail Pass rest area on Interstate 70 as of Monday morning.

Several ski resorts in the high country of Colorado have expressed their excitement about the snow.

Loveland Ski Area provided this image showing how the snow had piled up on their measuring platform at an elevation of 10,894 feet before power was knocked out there. More than a foot of snow had been measured at that location by early Monday.

In southeast Wyoming, the first snowflakes of the season were observed in Cheyenne on Monday morning. This coincides with the date of when the average first measurable snow has historically occurred in Cheyenne – Oct. 2.

 Heavy snow was observed in northwest Wyoming on Togwotee Pass, where around 2 feet of snow had piled up by Monday evening.