GLASGOW, Mont. – Northeastern Montana remained under a wind chill warning Sunday with wind chills up to 59 below zero due to a rare combination of conditions even for a state used to Arctic blasts.
Meteorologist Patrick Gilchrist with the National Weather Service in Glasgow said temperatures of 18 below zero are combining with winds of 20 to 30 mph to create dangerous conditions.
“To see the really strong winds like this under an Arctic air mass is unusual,” said Gilchrist, noting the last time it happened was the winter of 2010-11. The combination can cause exposed skin to be frostbitten within minutes.
The region is sparsely populated with mostly scattered ranches and small towns.
“We have a fairly good sense of community,” Gilchrist said. “If someone sees someone broken down on the side of the road they’ll be pretty quick to stop and help.” The temperature in Glasgow is expected to drop to 34 below zero this morning, he said, but added the wind chill will likely be about 40 or 45 below due to reduced wind speeds. Much of the rest of the eastern part of the state is under a wind chill advisory, meaning wind chills of 20 to 39 below zero.
In Billings, the temperature was 3 below zero Sunday afternoon and had a wind chill of 21 below zero, said Kurt Hooley, a National Weather Service meteorologist based there.
“It isn’t that cold for us,” he said, noting the city recorded a temperature of 23 below zero in early December.
Ranch animals, Hooley said, typically handle cold weather well as long as it’s dry and they have some shelter from the wind.