An avalanche warning is in effect for the West central Montana backcountry.  The current avalanche danger is HIGH.  Very dangerous avalanche conditions are present.  Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended today.  Human triggered avalanches are very likely, and natural avalanches are likely.

This is Travis Craft with an avalanche warning for Friday, December 29th, 2017.  This avalanche warning will expire at 6:00 am December 30, 2017.  The warning will either be extended or terminated at that time.

This danger rating does not apply to operating ski areas and is the sole responsibility of the U.S. Forest Service.

 Weather and Snowpack

Mountain temperatures range from 27 F to 35 F in the region.  In the Bitterroot winds are 2 mph with gusts of 5 out of the SSW.  In the northern part of the advisory area, at Point Six, winds are reading 16 mph with gusts of 25 mph out of the W.  The forecast area received 5 to 8 inches of new snow in the last 24 hours.  The SWE totals range from .9 to 2.4 inches.

We are adding a significant new load to an already poor snowpack structure.  Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended today.  This storm will continue through the weekend.

The primary concern is storm slabs.  Heavy new snow sitting on weak lighter snow.  These slabs will grow in size today.  There is potential for these slides to fail and step down to our deeper weak layers in the snowpack.

The second avalanche problem is persistent slabs.  These layers will be tested again with the addition of the new heavy snow.

I will issue the next advisory tomorrow December 30, 2017.

Ski and ride safe.