The week started out simply enough, a scattered inch here and there before dramatically shifting mid-week. Wednesday brought a foot of snow to the Seeley Lake area and inch and a half of water. The northern half of the advisory area got the most snow and water from the storm cycle. The North Fork Jocko snotel picked up about a foot of snow for 3 consecutive days and got over three inches of water in the same time frame.
The rest of the advisory area didn’t see the heavy snow until Thursday. A foot of snow and an inch of water was added to the snowpack in the Rattlesnake and Bitterroot range. An avalanche warning was issued on Friday. The heavy snow began bonding to the old snow quickly and the danger dropped to considerable by Saturday. Mild temperatures and minimal winds have led to the storm slabs settling quicker than usual.
The way the storms have been setting up this year has resulted in numerous avalanche warnings already. We keep getting large loads of snow added to the snowpack over a short time frame. The last storm cycle began healing even before the storm was complete but it is worth stating that the bulk of avalanche accidents happen during or within 24-48 hours following a storm. With the rapid loading events we keep seeing remain disciplined and make conservative decisions for a day or two following a storm and avoid avalanche terrain. After the snow has had some time to adjust to the new load slowly start working your way back into avalanche terrain keeping in mind that the snowpack will heal at different rates across terrain.
Ski and ride safe.