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Avalanche Warning issued for Montana's west central mountains

Editor's note: While there is no specific avalanche center to issue reports for the upper elevations of Clearwater County, those issued by agencies in surrounding areas provides some information and guidance.

An Avalanche Warning is in effect for the mountains of west central Montana with the danger rated as High, according to the West Central Montana Avalanche Center.

Dangerous avalanche conditions exist on terrain steeper than 30 degrees above 5,000 feet. Heavy snowfall and high winds have created conditions where natural avalanches are likely and human-triggered avalanches very likely. Travel on or underneath avalanche terrain is not recommended.

According to Dudley Improta, West Central Montana Avalanche Center, this avalanche warning does not apply to operating ski areas. The winter storm the area is currently experiencing is predicted to last through Thursday.

Weather and snowpack analysis

Wednesday afternoon, the Point 6 weather station is recording westerly mountain winds with gusts in excess of 50 miles per hour . Remote weather stations are reporting up to 10 inches of snow since this morning, with nearly 1.5 inches of snow water equivalent. This is a very heavy load on top of the weak snow surface created by the recent, extended high pressure system. More snow is forecast through Thursday.

The area is currently under a winter storm warning issued by the Weather Service. This storm is expected to last through Thursday.

Weather forecast and avalanche outlook

"Yesterday, in the advisory, I noted we're all powder starved; but the avalanche danger has increased. It would be prudent to let things settle out before easing into any steep terrain. Observers will be in the mountains tomorrow (Thursday), gathering information for the regular Friday advisory." Improta said.

Camas Financial Services
Window on the Clearwater
P.O. Box 2444
Orofino, ID 83544
Phone: (208) 476-0733
Fax: (208) 476-4140