Oct 31, 2018 @ 8:30 am

Happy Halloween! This is Travis Craft with an early season snowpack update, on Wednesday, October 31, 2018.

We’d like to convey our sincere thanks to the volunteers, board members, sponsors and everyone who joined us at the 12th annual Pray For Snow Party! Our major fundraising event of the year was a success! The funds raised will help cover the expenses for the avalanche forecasts and education programs the region relies on. Again, thank you for your continued support.

In response to the growing number of folks recreating in the backcountry, we will be increasing our presence in the field and creating new ways to educate people about avalanche safety. Please take the time to fill out this survey and help us better serve our community.

Snotel sites are starting to accumulate snow.  Winter is slowly taking over the higher elevations. It is time to think about avalanche awareness and preparing for backcountry recreation.

In the past, there have been several early season close calls and fatalities in Montana involving hunters, climbers and skiers.  Hunters and Climbers: Please keep avalanche safety on your mind as you travel across steep, open terrain. Consider traveling with a partner and carrying rescue equipment.  Skiers: If there is enough snow to ride, there is enough snow to slide!

If you see any of these clues signaling dangerous snow conditions, avoid being on or under open slopes steeper than 30 degrees:

  • Recent avalanche activity
  • Cracking or collapsing snowpack
  • Heavy snowfall
  • High winds
  • Rapid increase in temperature

If you spend time in the mountains during the winter, chances are you will encounter avalanche terrain. Understanding the terrain, weather and snowpack will significantly assist in making good decisions. To help you, we are offering several basic and advanced avalanche awareness classes this winter. This includes opportunities for private organizations who may be interested in a range of programs from introductory lectures to classes with a field component.

While out recreating, any information you can provide the WCMAC is appreciated and helps us inform the rest of the community about avalanche safety conditions. Please send a quick email to [email protected] or complete the easy to use public observation form.

We will update the advisory as the weather dictates and plan to begin issuing regular avalanche advisories with a danger rating in mid-December.



Problem 1 - New Snow

  • TYPE


    Storm Slabs

    Release of a soft cohesive layer (a slab) of new snow which breaks within the storm snow or on the old snow surface. Storm-slab problems typically last between a few hours and few days. Storm-slabs that form over a persistent weak layer (surface hoar, depth hoar, or near-surface facets) may be termed Persistent Slabs or may develop into Persistent Slabs.

  • SIZE


    1-2 (Small-Large)

    The potential size of avalanche resulting from this problem.




    The likelihood of an avalanche resulting from this problem.





This information is the sole responsibility of the Forest Service and does not apply to operating ski areas. The avalanche danger rating expires at midnight tonight but the information can help you make a more informed decision regarding travel in avalanche terrain for the next few days.

Our advisory area includes National Forest System lands in the Bitterroot Mountains from Lost Trail Pass north to Granite Pass, the Rattlesnake Mountains north of Missoula and the Southern Swan and Mission Mountains near Seeley Lake, MT. Avalanche information for the Lookout Pass/St. Regis Basin area is available from the Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center.