Simon Smith’s weekly weather discussion

Wednesday and Thursday, Jan. 31 and Feb. 1
A chance of snow showers. Lows in the upper teens to mid 20s with upper teens around 5000 feet. Highs in the lower to mid 30s with lower 20s around 5000 feet.

Friday and Saturday, Feb. 2 and 3
Locally windy with snow likely. Lows in the mid teens to mid 20s with lower to mid 20s around 5000 feet. Highs in the upper 20s to mid 30s with upper 20s around 5000 feet.

Sunday, Feb. 4
A slight chance of snow showers otherwise main-ly dry. Lows in the teens all elevations. Highs in the upper 20s to mid 30s with upper 20s around 5000 feet.

In-depth weather discussion for Northwest Montana/Rockies
Issued Sunday, Jan. 28 at 6:35 p.m.
Snow has changed over to rain across most eleva-tions below 4000 feet across Sanders County and for areas west of the Cabinet Mountains in Lincoln Coun-ty. Cold air remains locked in for areas such as Libby and Eureka with light snow continuing to fall in these areas although the lower parts of Libby have seen a rain/snow mix at times with little accumulation. Pre-cipitation will eventually let up and end overnight except for perhaps the extreme Northwest corner of Lincoln county near the Idaho/British Colombia bor-der where showers may persist through the night into early Monday. Monday looks to be a very mild day after any morning valley fog and low clouds dis-perse although an abundance of mid and high cloud cover will prevent temperatures from achieving their full potential. Still, some southerly breezes should develop aiding in mixing the atmosphere and allow-ing for warming conditions. Temperatures will likely soar into the 40s and possibly near 50 in some loca-tions such as Plains in Southern Sanders County. Overall Monday will also be a dry day with only the odd shower across far Northwestern Lincoln County north and west of Troy. That will change by Monday evening as the band of precipitation that has been over our region on Sunday will begin to move back to the south and east bringing valley rain and mountain snow above 5000 feet overnight on Monday. Snow levels will fall rapidly as the band of precipitation passes through and by Tuesday morning, snow levels should be near all valley floors once again with the last areas to change back over to snow being across Southern Sanders County where the changeover may not occur until mid morning Tuesday. Unsettled con-ditions will then resume for the rest of the week with general northwest flow aloft over our region as our Eastern Pacific ridge once again begins to build off-shore combining with a strengthening Hudson Bay low which will once again deliver some very cold air to those in the Midwest and Northeastern US. Our next chance for more widespread snowfall looks to be around later Thursday into Friday as a disturb-ance slides down from Canada bringing mainly snowfall to the region although southern valleys in Sanders County may see a mix of rain and snow from this system. Heading into the weekend there is con-siderable uncertainty as the models are not doing a good job handling the amount of cold air expected to drop southward into the Midwest and how far west to bring that cold air. The GFS is the most bullish with bringing some modified arctic air west over the Continental Divide but has been trending towards the warmer EC model which keeps all the cold air east of the Divide. Will tend to favor the EC at this time as its track record for long range forecasting continues to be very good. So what looked like yes-terday to potentially be a big snow and then bitter cold event is now looking less and less likely but again, things can change quickly so check back often. We are in Northwest Montana and its only late Janu-ary into early February so we should expect and be prepared for more winter weather.
Simon Smith is a local weather en-thusiast. More about Simon and up to date weather information can be found by visiting his website at
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Montana State Fund policyholders sue state of Montana
Submitted by Montana State Fund Justice
The Montana State Fund Justice Coalition, representing Montana State Fund (MSF) policy-holders and injured work-ers, has filed suit against the State of Montana for breach of contract and violation of the U.S. and Montana Constitution.
Senate Bill 4 was pro-posed by Governor Steve Bullock and passed during the November 2017 spe-cial session of the Mon-tana Legislature. The bill imposes a “management fee” on MSF assets, result-ing in the taking of $30 million from policyhold-ers and injured workers. The lawsuit challenges Montana’s taking of $30 million of MSF monies for purposes other than worker’s compensation and is asking the court to declare the statute “authorizing” this taking of private assets unconsti-tutional.
The coalition is led by business owner and state representative Greg Hertz (R-Polson).
“This money is collect-ed as insurance payments from policyholders to be used for the benefit of injured workers. These funds are private assets and it is unconstitutional for the government to disguise this taking as a “fee” and use the money for purposes that are not related to worker’s com-pensation,” said Hertz.
MSF policyholder and former MSF board mem-ber, Wayne Dykstra, is a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
“When there are ex-cess dollars in the State Fund, they have, by law, been returned to policy-holders to reduce premi-ums and the cost of doing business in Montana. This is an outright seizure of private assets that would set a precedent and put our workers compensa-tion system in jeop-ardy,” said Dykstra.
MSF was set up as a public corporation that competes with private insurance companies and gives employers a guaran-teed market to purchase workers compensation insurance. By law, MDF assets are held in trust both for injured workers and employers and are not to be used for any oth-er purposes. The Montana Chamber of Commerce, Montana Roofing Contrac-tors, Montana Building Industry Association, Na-tional Federation of Inde-pendent Business, Mon-tana Motor Carriers Asso-ciation, Professional In-surance Agents, the Inde-pendent Insurance Agents Association, and other employer groups oppose the legislation.
More than 30 Montana businesses and associa-tions have contributed to help fund the lawsuit. For more information, contact Greg Hertz, at 406-253-9505.
Sunrise and Sunset Times
Date Sunrise Sunset
Wednesday, Jan. 31 8:12 a.m. 5:42 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 1 8:10a.m. 5:43 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 2 8:09 a.m. 5:45 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 3 8:07a.m. 5:46 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 4 8:06 a.m. 5:48 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 5 8:05 a.m. 5:50 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 6 8:03a.m. 5:51 p.m.
Montana Gas Price Update
As of Jan. 22, gasoline prices in Montana averaged $2.56 per gallon according to
Idaho’s average was $2.54per gallon.
Prices were 27 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and 1.3 cents per gallon lower than one month ago.