News Minute: Here is the latest Montana news from The Associated - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

News Minute: Here is the latest Montana news from The Associated Press at 5:40 p.m. MST

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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - A major winter storm has started sweeping through the U.S. Rocky Mountains, with heavy mountain snows and bitter cold temperatures forecast through the long Presidents Day weekend. The National Weather Service says the Arctic front will sweep south from Canada and hit Idaho and Montana first, before rolling into Wyoming, Utah and Colorado. Warnings of potential blizzard conditions were issued Saturday in western Montana, where up to two feet of snow was expected along with damaging winds.

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - NorthWestern Energy says it won't buy a distressed power plant in southeastern Montana that could be forced to shut down if a buyer isn't found by the end of March. The Hardin Generating Facility in Big Horn County has been operating in the red since 2014. The plant is run by Rocky Mountain Energy. It was built in 2006 and gets its coal from the Absaloka mine on the nearby Crow Indian Reservation.

COLUMBIA FALLS, Mont. (AP) - A conservation groups says the stone walls of a historic chalet at Glacier National Park that was severely damaged in a wildfire last summer are holding up despite record snowfalls. The Glacier National Park Conservancy says a flyover of the backcountry Sperry Chalet earlier this month showed the walls still standing. The area around the chalet has received nearly 300 inches of snow so far this winter.

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Montana environmental officials say a reported increase in aquatic algae on the Smith River is interfering with recreational activities on the popular waterway. The Montana Department of Environmental Quality is planning two public meetings to talk about potential causes and solutions to the problem. Too much algae can harm fish and foul irrigation systems.

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