Saturday, March 31, 2012

Avalanche danger rated as high for Glacier Park and Flathead and Kootenai National Forests

Tony Willits of the U.S. Forest Service issued a special backcountry avalanche bulletin last night for the Glacier Park and Flathead and Kootenai National Forest areas:

Between the elevations of 4,500 and 7,500 ft. the avalanche danger is currently rated HIGH on all steep and open terrain, on all aspects. A warm plume of moisture, with rising freezing levels has brought rain to the elevations of 5,500 to 5,800 feet. Overnight freezing (Friday night) will be short lived. Saturday will experience warmer temperatures and rain with freezing levels climbing to and above 6,500 feet, which will likely allow for a natural cycle of avalanche activity.

It is strongly advised to curtail back country travel until our region experiences some significant refreezing of the surface snow pack.

The weather forecast is predicting good confidence in a cold front moving into our region late Saturday night which could cause a stabilizing effect to the surface snow pack. The return of cooler temperatures on Sunday will be accompanied with moderate SW winds which will likely load NE-E aspects. Stay off of wind loaded terrain until time has passed to allow for stabilization of the potential weak interface.

Because of the general nature of this advisory message, each backcountry party will always need to make their own time and site specific avalanche hazard evaluations. This advisory best describes conditions at the time of its issuance. As time passes avalanche and snow conditions may change, sometimes quite rapidly. Elevation and geographic distinctions used are approximate and transition zones between hazards exist.

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