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A look at the Highway 200 small avalanche - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

A look at the Highway 200 small avalanche

Posted: Jan 02, 2018 11:17 AM Updated:

LINCOLN - A small avalanche blocked a portion of Highway 200 west of Lincoln from Friday night into Saturday morning.

When the heavy wet snow from the storm released, it trapped a semi tractor-trailer. Fortunately, the driver of the semi was not hurt. The driver was trapped in the front of the truck while rescuers worked to clear enough snow that they could open the door.

Westbound traffic was detoured at Lincoln; eastbound traffic was detoured at Montana Highway 141. Lincoln  Volunteer Fire Rescue Chief Zach Muse was one of those who responded to the scene.

"There’s so many of those hillsides just like that you know along Highway 200 all of her Montana for that matter and so it's -- it can happen anywhere," Muse said. "Emergency officials say it’s emergency travel only, or ya know, please stay home please do it because there’s a reason for it." 

A major factor in the avalanche was the gusty winds loading the snow up the hill. For the avalanche to occur, the gravitational pull on the snow has to exceed the frictional force holding it down.

Avalanches can occur on just about any slope; they are not confined to just steep, mountainous backcountry.

For the latest avalanche conditions across southwest Montana visit the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center website. For avalanche conditions in western Montana visit the West Central Montana Avalanche Foundation’s website. Go to the Flathead Avalanche Center’s website for conditions in northwest Montana.

- information from Lauren Heiser included in this report.

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