On the eastern side of Montana, there are few valleys to hold in much warmth and even fewer mountains, allowing the wind to rip across the prairie and produce dangerous wind chills.
Temperatures in central and western Montana hit the -30s and -40s early Thursday morning, with wind chills in the range of -40 to -60.
The National Weather Service, an agency of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in Great Falls says that the day will only warm up to the -10s and -20s, with wind chills between -30 and -60.
NOAA announced a “historic winter storm” Thursday, which will likely impact travel widely going into the busy holiday weekend. High winds, heavy snows, significant icing, and increased power consumption are expected and have already begun.
“It’s damn cold,” Brian Burleson, a hydro-meteorological technician, told The Dallas Express. Burleson works in the NWS Forecast Office in Glasgow, Montana, 60 miles south of the Canadian border.
The wind chill in Glasgow — dubbed the “middle of nowhere” by The Washington Post — hit -40 on Wednesday night, according to Burleson.
At these temperatures, frostbite can happen in less than five minutes, according to the Great Falls National Weather Service.
“This cold wind is why us Northern Montanans can take punches to the face better than anyone else,” Wesley KillEagle Jr. told The Dallas Express.
KillEagle lives near Dodson, Montana, about an hour west of Glasgow as the crow flies.
Dodson is a stone’s throw away from the northern border of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation to the east, home to the Nakoda and Anaiah Nations. The reservation’s population is just over 1,500, according to U.S. Census Bureau numbers.
Dodson is also 15 miles west of Malta, Montana, the county seat of Phillips County.
“I’m not even mad about this,” Pierre Bibbs, publisher of the Phillips County News, told The Dallas Express. “It is epic. The wind chill is -51 at the moment. I’m over here thriving, slightly enjoying the chaos. If it’s going to be cold, let’s threaten to break records.”
The coldest the wind chill got in Malta overnight on Wednesday was -55, Burleson told The Dallas Express.
The coldest wind chill felt in Montana was -60 in Saint Marie while the coldest overnight temperature was in Elk Point — near Helena, the state capital — which dipped to -60, according to Burleson.
“This isn’t the coldest night,” he added. “This is the worst wind chill, and then tomorrow we’re looking at lows up here in Glasgow of about 38 below.”
“Nearly 280 million people are under some form of winter weather warnings or advisories across the U.S.,” according to the NOAA.
Temperatures in Dallas are expected to drop as low as 12 degrees overnight.
And we think it’s cold down in Texas. Our temps are nothing by comparison. And within a day or two, it jumps up to the 30’s/40’s. People down here need to get a grip. My first husband was from Chicago and I’ve been there in the winter several times. Now THAT is cold.