Record snow, cold, slams northern U.S. Rockies with winter-like weather

Midwinter-like weather clobbered the northern Rockies Sunday and into Monday, making early Autumn feel like deep winter, while as much as 4 feet (121 cm) of snow fell in places and hard-hit Montana declared a state of emergency to clear blocked roads.

"You have to go back to the 1930s before you find another storm like this, this early in the season," said Josh Weiss, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's (NWS) Weather Prediction Center.

"A pretty good swath of the northwest got 2-3 feet (60-91 cm) of snow," Weiss said. "It's a pretty good storm."

About 19 inches of snow fell in northwestern Washington state, and light snow also fell in areas of California, Nevada, Wyoming, Oregon and Idaho, forecasters said.

Another 1-2 inches (2.5 - 5 cm) of snow was expected by mid-Monday in spots, with winter storm warnings in effect for western Montana and the mountains of northern Washington and northern Idaho.

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Snow storms in the Western states
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Snow storms in the Western states
Pedestrians make their way along a snow covered street lined with trees that still have their leaves during a fall snowstorm in Helena, Mont., on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. Strong winds and heavy snow caused power outages and temporary road closures in northwestern Montana as a wintry storm threatened to drop several feet of snow in some areas of the northern Rocky Mountains. (AP Photo/Matt Volz)
Garden City Harvest grower Brihannala Morgan gazes over her five-row plot after harvesting the last of what she could from the plants in snow that hit Missoula, Mont., Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. Morgan got the last of her tomatoes and peppers, hoping they will ripen off the vine at home rather than freeze in the garden. (Sara Diggins/The Missoulian via AP)
Tommy Little, from left, Cody Little, Kyndra Neal and Tanya Little use the snow accumulation to sled down a hill in Missoula, Mont., Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock declared an emergency Sunday, allowing the state to mobilize resources to help affected areas. (Ben Allan Smith/The Missoulian via AP)
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Montana Governor Steve Bullock called an emergency on Sunday after 40 inches (101 cm) of snow fell in towns like Browning, forcing highway closures and a string of road accidents.

Temperatures dropped to record lows in the 20s F (-6.6 C) or below on Sunday night across western Montana and north-central Idaho, according to the NWS.

"With an unprecedented winter storm throwing our state a surprise in September, state and local governments are working closely together to protect the health and safety of Montanans,” Bullock said.

Strong winds blowing snow were expected to disrupt travel early Monday.

"The good news is that the storm is winding down," Weiss said. "But it's going to linger this morning."

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