Nov 13, 2011 @ 1:25 pm

November 13, 2011 Update

Heavy snowfall and high winds the past 48 hours are giving a jump start to what is predicted to be another big winter.

Hello! This is Steve Karkanen with an early season snowpack conditions report issued November 13, 2011.

By 10am this morning SNOTEL sites in the Bitterroot are reporting 11-19” of snow on the ground.  Even the lower elevation sites have decent snow. Lolo and Lookout passes, each at around 5200’, have 17-18” of snow. North of Missoula, the Stuart Peak SNOTEL reports 14” and North Fork Jocko 19”.  Snowfall will continue throughout the week.

Now that the higher terrain has accumulated enough snow to recreate on it’s time to start thinking about avalanches.

Leeward slopes just below the ridgeline will be the most likely place where a slab can form. Heavily sheltered couloirs or gullies where last winters snow persisted through the summer need particular attention as early season snow may not bond easily to the hard, smooth surface of the old snow.

Bottom line: Slopes that hold the most snow and the best skiing are usually avalanche paths.

Hunters have been caught and killed in avalanches in Montana. Now that there’s good tracking snow a hunter can easily find themselves in avalanche terrain. Hunters don’t often think about avalanches or have any rescue equipment and often travel solo.  The best course of action for hunters is to avoid steep open terrain.

We have a number of class offerings coming up.  The Level 1 classes are popular and tend to fill up quickly so get signed up soon. More information can be found on our education and events page.

We begin issuing regular advisories in early December depending on conditions. If you get out and see interesting snow, weather or avalanches, send us a note at [email protected] or send an observation on the form provided on the website.



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.