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Winter wonderland; Visitors from Hong Kong get a taste of the Montana winter experience
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Winter wonderland; Visitors from Hong Kong get a taste of the Montana winter experience

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Hieronymus Park in Hamilton was filled with shrieks of laughter of youngsters enjoying the slow easy sledding trails through the six inches of powdery white, Wednesday afternoon. The prediction is for much colder temperatures starting Monday. 

Peggy Tonan was at the park with her guests from Hong Kong, the Laud and Wong family. Mannie Laud was Tonen’s exchange student 1995-96 with AFS, formerly the American Field Service, a nonprofit organization offering student exchange programs.

Laud was back visiting her host family and said Hamilton has changed.

“I cannot recognize the town now,” she said.

Laud returned to show nature to her husband, Brian Wong, and son, Sam, 5, who were seeing stars and experiencing snow for the first time.

“They’ve only seen it in the movies,” Laud said. “It is a new experience for them and they are having so much fun.”

The guests, here for a two-week visit, were bundled in the right winter gear for their sledding session.

“They don’t experience changing seasons in Hong Kong,” Tonen said. “They were wearing shorts in Hong Kong before coming to Montana.”

Sam said he was surprised that snow was cold and slippery.

Tonan said Sam loves the snow.

“He has been helping shovel and is really enjoying the snow,” she said. “He is an amazing little boy; he speaks Mandarin, English, Cantonese and is learning to speak Japanese.”

The park was suddenly quiet when over 30 snow geese flew low overhead honking their delight to have a sunny day in the Bitterroot Valley.

Enjoy the sun while you can because the National Weather service has predicted snow, blowing snow and dangerous wind chills for Sunday and Monday with extremely cold temperatures for Jan. 3-7.

Bob Nester, senior National Weather Service meteorologist, said snow then cold is coming.

“Sunday and Monday we’ll have a nice little winter snow with three to four inches of snow possible,” Nester said. “Then an arctic system will start to impact the region. It will move into the area with northeast winds across the Bitterroot Valley with wind chill of 10 to 15 below zero.”

Nester said that even colder air will settle in to the region all next week.

“We’re looking at low temperatures by Monday then the real cold air settles in,” he said. “Tuesday and Wednesday it’s going to struggle to get up to zero for a high. Right now our extended models show it continuing through next weekend.”

Nester said there may be some snow showers but he is not expecting this to be a big precipitation event.

“Protect those livestock and keep your car plugged in,” he said.

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