The current avalanche danger is MODERATE on wind loaded terrain above 6,500ft in the west central Montana backcountry.  Human triggered avalanches are possible in specific terrain. This danger rating does not apply to operating ski areas, expires at midnight tonight and is the sole responsibility of the U.S. Forest Service.

Good morning, this is Logan King with the West Central Montana Avalanche Center’s avalanche advisory for Thursday, March 3rd, 2016.

Weather and Snowpack

Strong winds continue to persist throughout the advisory area. No new snow was seen overnight but moderate snowfalls yesterday brought an additional 2-6inches of snow since Tuesday morning. Current mountain winds are in the teens and gusting to the twenties from the SE-SW.

With prolonged strong winds and new snow for transport windslabs continue to be the primary concern throughout the region. Yesterday Tim and I were in the Southern Swan Range and found strong ridge top winds and notable cornice development. We also saw the remnants of a very small natural windslab that released sometime over the last two days.

With the new light snow, loose snow avalanches will be the secondary concern today. Around 2-6 inches of new snow has been seen over the last few days. The new snow will be moving on steeper terrain and in areas where it is sitting on crusts. The majority of loose snow avalanches should settle out over the next day or two, but be cautious of terrain traps or anything that increases the consequences of getting caught.

Lastly persistent slabs still warrant some attention. Generally most of the persistent problems have settled out or have been buried deep enough in the snowpack that they are unlikely to be triggered but we did have a propagation (ECTP 24) on a layer of small facets yesterday on a SE aspect. The small facets below crusts near the surface have been intermittently reactive over the last few weeks, so dig pits and test the reactivity of the persistent layers around the crusts.

Avalanche and Weather Outlook

A quick moving band of moisture will bring another round of snow late this morning but will give way to more settled weather this evening and into Friday. Strong westerly winds are predicted to continue but with no significant new load and minimal snow for transport avalanche conditions will remain the same.

Travis will issue the next avalanche advisory on Saturday.