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Gloomy weather continues Wednesday; Beartooth Pass still closed

Beartooth Pass from Vista Point on the Montana side to Long Lake on Wyoming side will remain closed on Wednesday due to extreme icy conditions, blowing and drifting and snow showers atop the pass, which are predicted until Thursday morning. 

If travelers head to Vista Point or Long Lake, they will they will need to turn around and go back down the pass. It is 24 degrees on top of the pass this morning, according to the Montana Department of Transportation. The next update is expected to occur on Thursday morning.

The slow-moving weather system which has been plaguing Billings for much of the week, could be gone as early as Thursday afternoon but not before it drops some more rain on the area Wednesday.

Since Tuesday night, the airport has received .55 inches of rain, said Albert Richmond, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Billings. 

The lower than normal temperatures and rain can be blamed on a low pressure system which has been slowly chugging across Billings in a northwest direction, he said. 

"We have a big upper low that's moving through and it's bringing us below normal temperatures especially in the mountains," Richmond said. "There's actually snow falling above 7,000 feet."

Three inches of snow has fallen on the Beartooth Pass near the state line of Montana and Wyoming, according to the Montana Department of Transportation. The pass remains closed from Vista Point to Long Lake until conditions improve.

Though there has been a lot of rain for the last couple of days, the monthly total is not way off the charts. So far, 1.56 inches of rain has fallen in Billings in June. The average rainfall is 1.29 inches. 

A hazardous weather outlook was been issued Wednesday, because showers and thunderstorms could become severe, but relief from wet and gloomy weather is coming, Richmond said.

A 60 percent chance of rain is likely before noon Wednesday in Billings, and showers or thunderstorms are likely later in the day. Skies will be mostly cloudy and a wind out of the west southwest will blow from 13 to 16 mph. 

By evening, the chance for precipitation will drop to 40 percent and lows will fall to 50. Skies will be mostly cloudy and a breeze out of the west southwest will blow 9 to 14 mph. 

Sunshine will peek out behind the clouds Thursday and highs will reach into the mid 70s, though there still is a 40 percent chance of showers. Southwest winds between 13 and 20 mph are expected.

The likelihood of a Thursday night shower will drop to 20 percent and skies should become partly cloudy. Lows will fall to 52 as wind out of the west will blow between 8 and 15 mph.