Jan 24, 2014 @ 4:13 am

January 24, 2014 Avalanche Advisory

The avalanche danger in the west central Montana backcountry is LOW.  Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely.

Although avalanche conditions are generally safe, you must consider that even under LOW avalanche danger conditions, it is possible to trigger an avalanche in isolated areas or on extreme terrain.

Hello!  This is Steve Karkanen with the West Central Montana Avalanche Center’s January 24, 2014 Avalanche Advisory.  The avalanche danger rating expires at midnight tonight and does not apply to operating ski areas.


Weather and Snowpack

The clear dry spell continues.  Most areas received a quick shot of moisture Wednesday but it was only enough new snow to make you mad.

Many locations are seeing abundant surface hoar growth and near surface faceting due to the clear skies and big temperature gradients at the snow surface.  Dudley does a nice job describing the current conditions in this You Tube video:  YouTube video describing current condition.

Mild temperatures continue to strengthen our snowpack. The deeply buried facets we were describing last month are not much of a concern anymore except in steep, heavily shaded areas where the snowpack is shallow and rocky.

Snow profiles and stability tests are giving all observers and avalanche specialists a high level of confidence that conditions are mostly stable.

It is possible to trigger wet loose snow avalanches on steep terrain during the warmest part of the day.  The large cornices that formed two weeks ago are a wild card and can easily collapse under the weight of a person or sled. The best way to manage them is to give them a wide berth especially during warm periods.


Weather and Avalanche Forecast

The Missoula Weather Service Office expects this high pressure to dominate our weather at least until Sunday when an arctic air mass moves into the northern Rockies with gusty east winds and a better chance of snow.  By mid week, we may see moisture begin streaming into the area as the ridge breaks down.

I expect the avalanche danger to remain similar through the weekend or until we start seeing more snow.  When that happens, conditions are going to change pretty fast.

Dudley will issue the next advisory on January 28.

Thanks to everyone who came down to the Northside Kettlehouse Wednesday.  Your support does make a difference. Have a safe weekend!


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.