Avalanche Advisory February 11, 2014
The avalanche danger in the Bitterroot Mountains from Hoodoo Pass to Lost Trail Pass is CONSIDERABLE on slopes steeper than 30 degrees. The avalanche danger is MODERATE in the Rattlesnake Mountains and the Southern Swan and Mission Mountains near Seeley Lake, on slopes steeper than 30 degrees.
Good Morning, this is Dudley Improta with the West Central Montana avalanche advisory for February 11, 2014. This danger rating does not apply to operating ski areas and expires at midnight tonight (Feb. 11).
Weather and Snowpack Analysis
This morning southerly and westerly winds are blowing 15 to 25 mph above 7000 feet. High elevation temperatures are generally warm in the upper twenties (F). It is snowing and the area has picked up 3 to 5 inches since midnight. We are currently under a winter weather advisory.
This weekend, the southern part of the Bitterroots received a big dump that packed some weight. Observations from the Lost Trail area on Sunday included widespread collapsing, natural avalanches and low stability scores (Lost Trail pit profile) (Lost Trail pit profile). A quick report from Downing Mountain Lodge indicated 6-8” natural wind slab releases and cautioned about higher exposed terrain where the wind slabs might be larger.
Observations from Sunday and yesterday in the Rattlesnake showed a less sensitive snowpack; although there was abundant sluffing on steep slopes and a skier-triggered wind slab on a northeast slope (Rattlesnake pit profile) (photo skier-triggered wind slab).
Either the wind-slabs or a larger sluff could be trouble if they rake you over some rocks, take you into some trees or deposit you in a gulley. In addition to these two avalanche problems, the surface facets from January’s high pressure are still showing up in some of our pits and in some public observer’s pits.
Weather Forecast and Avalanche Outlook
Here’s the big story. Snow should continue today with a short break this evening before a series of big storms arrive. Predictions are upwards of 2 feet (or more) of snow will accumulate in the high country Wednesday and Thursday; mainly along the MT/ID border. These storms may carry more than 2 inches of snow water equivalent and will be accompanied by strong west and southwest winds. Rain levels may rise above 4000 feet.
If this event happens; no suprise here; the avalanche danger will increase throughout the area.
Last Chance for a Missoulaavalanche Level 1
Ski and ride safe!
I’ll issue the next regular advisory Valentine’s Day. If this big snow arrives I’m sure your sweetie would enjoy a new sled or a new pair of fat powder skis; if that’s not in the budget, a nice card and some good chocolate will probably suffice.