Winter has arrived here in Montana as well as the surrounding states. You will constantly be hearing about road conditions, road closures, accidents, and total snow fall for the next few months.

There will also be terms that you hear throughout our winter season that you are not as familiar with, or think you might know what they mean but could use a little refresh. We put together 5 winter terms that anyone living in a snowy state, should all be aware of.

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Winter Storm Watch

Typically, a Winter Storm Watch will be issued in advance of the storm (usually at least 24 hours). Usually a winter storm watch is telling you that there is a risk of a hazardous winter weather event has increased, meaning at least a 50% chance of the winter event happening. There is not always a specific targeted areas, which is why winter storm watches are issued 24 hours in advance, to give you enough time to make travel decisions.

A watch is issued when weather conditions are favorable for a storm to take place. It is a way to give advance notice to prepare for unfavorable winter conditions to occur.

Winter Storm Warning

This goes into effect when:

  • heavy snow of at least 6 inches in 12 hours or
  • at least 8 inches in 24 hours, can be expected

This warning can also be issued if sleet, (a form of precipitation consisting of ice pellets, often mixed with rain or snow), accumulation will be at least half an inch.


Winter Weather Advisory

An advisory is typically issued when at least one of the following is determined to happen:

  • Snow of 3 to 5 inches in 12 hours
  • sleet accumulation up to 1/4 inch
  • freezing rain in combination with sleet and/or snow
  • blowing snow

Blizzard Warning 

A blizzard warning indicates that blizzard conditions, such as low visibility of less than 1/4 mile due to falling and/or blowing snow, and winds that are at least 35 mph, are expected for a minimum of 3 hours.

Black Ice

Black Ice is sometimes called clear ice, is a thin coating of ice on a surface, especially on streets and highways. The ice itself is not black, but visually transparent making the often black road below to be seen through it. Black ice is incredibly dangerous and the cause of many accidents every winter.

We want everyone to stay as safe as possible this winter, so familiarize yourself with these terms so you are able to make appropriate accommodations in your day to day travel.

cc: National Weather Service, Wikipedia

Here's 8 States That Have Longer And Harsher Winters Than Montana

Winter can be brutal here in Montana with lots of wind, snow, and temperatures well below zero. In fact, that alone should be a word of warning for those thinking of moving here from warmer climates.

A lot goes into being prepared to live in a state with rough winters and if you've never done it before, you certainly need to make sure that you are prepared. You need to make sure you have the right tires, vehicle, and winter clothing. Plus, I would highly suggest you learn how to drive in winter conditions before moving to a state that celebrates winter 6 months out of the year.

And while winters can be very rough here in Montana, we don't even crack the Top 5 for States With The Most Brutal Winters.

Gallery Credit: Derek Wolf

Montana Holiday Collection Will Get You In The Christmas Spirit

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in Bozeman, and for those of you who still are having a bit of a problem getting into the spirit of the season, I have the perfect place for you to check out.

As you travel around the area this Holiday Season taking in all the lights and various displays, you will certainly want to stop in and spend a little time at one long-time Bozeman business.

The Lewis and Clark Motel located at 824 West Main has one of the most spectacular Nutcracker displays that you will ever see. With almost 600 on display, the self-guided tour is a great way to get into the Holiday spirit, while remembering the old-fashioned Christmases that so many of us enjoyed as kids.

Gallery Credit: Derek Wolf

15 Important Items For Your Montana Winter Emergency Travel Kit

Life in Montana means being prepared for any type of weather. During the winter months, it's important to keep these items in your winter emergency travel kit.

Gallery Credit: Jesse James

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