Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) The winter storm that delivered snow and sent temperatures plunging below zero degrees has prompted the cancellation or delay of several flights from Missoula Montana Airport.

On Thursday night, as the snow intensified, Delta Airlines canceled its flight to Salt Lake City while Allegiant Air canceled its flight into Phoenix/Mesa.

Other flights were delayed including Alaska Airlines' flights to both Portland and Seattle, and a United Airlines' flight to Denver. On Friday morning, as Missoula woke to temperatures around minus 11 degrees, American Airlines' flight to Dallas/Fort Worth was also delayed.

But for airport operations, winter weather isn't anything new.

“Regarding the cold, (we'd) much rather have cold and snow than fog,” said airport director Brian Ellestad. “For the cold, our folks are constantly going from building to building making sure everything is functioning.”

Temperatures at the airport fell to minus 9 degrees on Friday morning with wind chills as high as minus 31 degrees, marking the coldest day of 2024. Friday's high is forecast to warm to minus 7 degrees before plunging to minus 20.

High temperatures Saturday are forecast at minus 1 while overnight lows dip again to minus 22 degrees. Wind chills could be as high as minus 35 degrees, the National Weather Service office in Missoula said.

“Many of the airlines will drain their aircraft water on the overnight aircraft so that does not freeze up and again monitor the aircraft overnight, making sure heat is on at all times,” Ellestad said. “Worker safety is very important, making sure everyone is dressed appropriately and rotated in and out of the weather.”

While the weather has slowed airport operations, Missoula County Public Schools ran on schedule Friday morning without any closures.

“School administrators will continue to monitor weather and traffic conditions throughout the day and will inform staff and families directly of any significant changes affecting our schools,” the district said in a statement Friday morning.

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