The current avalanche danger is Low  in the west central Montana backcountry. Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.

Good morning, this is Travis Craft with the West Central Montana Avalanche Center’s avalanche advisory for December 04, 2018.  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.

Weather and Snowpack

Mountain temperatures range from 8 F to 14 F in the region.  In the Bitterroot winds are 5 mph with gusts of 8 mph out of the SSW.  In the northern part of the advisory area, winds are reading 21 mph with gusts of 27 mph out of the West.  The forecast area received 0 to 1 inch of new snow in the last 24 hours.

The forecast area has a relatively shallow snowpack ranging from 2 to 3 feet of snow. The upper elevations have the most snow and where you may encounter isolated avalanche problems.

The primary problem is wind slabs. Look for small wind slabs on leeward terrain. Look for snowdrifts and smooth, rounded deposits of snow on ridgelines. Avoid wind-drifted snow in steep terrain.

The second problem is persistent slabs. There is a crust with weak snow above it about 2 feet from the ground. This layer is one to keep in mind as we continue to get more snow in the upcoming week. Dig a pit to see if this layer is reactive. Dig your pit all the way to the ground to find this layer.

Overall we have safe avalanche conditions. Look out for stumps and rocks that are thinly covered by snow that could lead to injury. Remember that the shallow snow will increase the risk of trauma if caught in a slide as more rocks, stumps, and down trees will be exposed in the slide path. Use normal caution, continue to keep your guard up and look for any signs of snow instability. Evaluate snow and weather conditions as you travel.

page8image3723207840Avalanche and Weather Outlook
This week calls for very little change in the weather. We will have cold temperatures and little chance for precipitation. This means little will change with the avalanche danger.

If you are out in the backcountry, please send us your observations, these are very helpful in producing the advisory.

Join us tonight at Big Sky Brewing for an Avalanche Awareness night. Click on the link for more details.

I will issue the next forecast on Thursday.

Ski and ride safe.