Western Montana Avalanche Risk Dangerous From Big Storm
The arrival of February might have you anxious to make the most of the remaining weekends of winter. But with avalanche danger at its highest levels again, now is probably not the time to seek adventure in the backcountry.
Teams with the West Central Montana Avalanche Center have been fanning out across the mountains over the past couple of days, watching as the changing weather started to create some very unstable conditions at all elevations.
By Friday, the avalanche danger has reached "high" levels in several popular locations, including the Rattlesnake, and the risk had been expected to climb throughout the day in the Seeley and Bitterroot zones due to the combination of warm temperatures, and additional new snow and winds. That weather was also forecast to impact the Southern Mission Mountains and the southern Swan Range. In addition to the new snow, winds in some areas were expected to gust as high as 45 miles an hour through Saturday morning with the arrival of an arctic front.
Forecasters warned "human-triggered and natural avalanches over 2 feet deep are very likely at middle and upper elevations. Avoid slopes over 30º and leave wide margins underneath avalanche terrain."
The latest forecast for West Central Montana can be found here and should be checked throughout the weekend.
The Flathead Avalanche Center had also issued warnings on Friday, with a "high" risk of slides in the northern Swan Range, a "considerable risk" in the Flathead Range and Glacier National Park, and a "moderate" risk in the Whitefish Range.
Forecasters in Kalispell said, "fresh slabs can be found in shelter locations and areas open to the wind." They were advising snowmobilers, skiers, and snowboarders to stick to slopes of 30 degrees or less, and free from "overhead hazards."
The latest Flathead forecast can be found here.