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Up to 4 feet of snow in Montana as storm hits West

Matt Volz / AP

A man walks his dog past a half-buried statue of a newspaper boy in Helena, Montana, Friday.

A winter storm dumped up to 4 feet of snow on parts of Montana and was expected to create severe thunderstorms as it heads east, Weather.com reported early Saturday.

A strong jet stream was bringing moisture from the Pacific into the western U.S., while cold air pushed in from Canada, Nick Wiltgen of Weather.com said.

He also said there was windy weather across much of the West. “Winds over higher terrain have been especially impressive, with a top gust of 111 mph at Meteor Crater in northern Arizona,” Wiltgen said, adding, “thank goodness it wasn't snowing there.”

He expected light snow would continue Saturday for much of Montana, though the winds had diminished in the western half of the state.

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Wiltgen added that there had even been some lake-effect snow in western Nevada, south and southeast of Lake Tahoe and Pyramid Lake.

“Beware of this in the Reno and Carson City areas,” he said.

“Utah and western Colorado are in line for the more widespread snows, with winter storm warnings in effect for most mountain ranges in those areas,” he added, predicting a “bonanza” for ski resorts across the region.

“Saturday brings a transition from a wintry mix to snow for more of the western Dakotas. Snow showers, locally heavy, will continue across Wyoming and into Utah and western Colorado as well,” he said. “Some locations in western North Dakota, including Minot and Williston, could see well over a foot of snow from this storm system by sunset Saturday.”

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