Montana Gov. Steve Bullock declared an emergency Sunday as a rare September snowstorm walloped the Northern Rockies with powerful winds and as much as 3 feet of snow.
Calling the storm “unprecedented,” Bullock said that strong winds downed power lines shutting down roads, triggering outages and hampering cellphone service.
"In terms of how widespread and strong this storm has been, we still have a lot of data crunching to do, but it appears that this storm could end up being one of, if not the strongest on record" for early fall, Matthew Jackson, a National Weather Service senior meteorologist, said.
Jackson said a three-day period in September 1934 was the last time so much snow fell in such a short amount of time.
But that record — 13.2 inches in the city of Great Falls — had already been eclipsed by this weekend's snowy weather, when almost 19 inches fell in just two days.
"As we are still snowing, that number will likely increase tonight," he said.
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Bullock's emergency declaration targeted eight counties in western Montana, as well as the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, allowing state officials to more easily help hard-hit areas.