Avalanche Information for West Central Montana

Avalanche Information for West Central Montana

This site is sponsored by the West Central Montana Avalanche Foundation (WCMAF), a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Corporation. WCMAF is dedicated to promoting avalanche safety education and awareness by providing information to all interested user groups regarding terrain, weather and snow conditions that contribute to avalanche danger in West Central Montana.

WCMAF operates in partnership with the West Central Montana Avalanche Center (WCMAC) of the Lolo National Forest. WCMAC provides avalanche advisories that are updated Tuesday and Friday mornings during the winter.

Missoula Avalanche News Image

West Central Montana Avalanche Advisory

(the advisory can be accessed by phone at 406-549-4488 or 800-281-1030)

Early Season Avalanche Conditions Update for 11/26

Current Danger Rating is NO-RATING

Dangerous snowpack conditions.

Western Montana is getting slammed by heavy mountain snowfall and high ridge top winds.

We’ve received several good reports from a variety of locations in the Bitterroot and Rattlesnake mountains all of which describe:

  • a weak snowpack structure
  • heavy new snowfall on top of weak layers of facets
  • cracking and collapsing of the snowpack
  • high winds
  • avalanches on small test slopes and wind loaded terrain

These conditions are particularly dangerous with an upside down profile and a thick slab sitting on the facets that formed during the cold dry weather earlier this month.  Early season avalanches tend to release at the facets close to the ground increasing the likelihood of getting dragged through rocks and stumps if you get caught.

Winter storm watches and warnings are in effect today with clearing conditions for Thanksgiving. We can expect continued snow after Thanksgiving with a return to much colder weather later this weekend.

The best travel advice we can give is to avoid the higher elevation avalanche terrain and give it a chance to strengthen. Keep in mind that it may take more than just a few days before you can trust this weak structure.

This is Steve Karkanen with this early season update from the West Central Montana Avalanche Center issued on November 26, 2014.  We begin issuing regular advisories with danger ratings on December 12.