KALISPELL — A big winter storm is set to blow into Northwest Montana Thursday with backcountry avalanche conditions reaching dangerous levels.
“We’re expecting the avalanche danger to increase tomorrow, tomorrow night and into Friday,” Flathead Avalanche Center Director Blase Reardon told MTN News.
“We expect to wind up with dense slabs over top of soft weaker snow and that’s likely to lead to large and very large avalanches in areas that get a foot or more of new snow,” added Reardon.
The Flathead Avalanche Center issued an avalanche watch Wednesday afternoon in the Swan, Flathead and Glacier National Park mountain ranges with an avalanche warning possible come Thursday.
“And peaking sometime early Friday morning and it will probably stay elevated into the weekend, so we recommend people get the avalanche forecast, get rescue gear to carry with them and get out of harm’s way when they’re in the actual backcountry,” said Reardon.
Reardon said this storm has the potential for a mass amount of snow at lower mountain elevations, which could lead to dangerous tree well conditions.
“This is the kind of thing that could magnify even a small loose snow slide, just pushes somebody headfirst into a tree well, small slide that would normally not be enough snow to bury somebody but in that case all of the additional snow from the tree well falls in and exaggerates the consequences,” added Reardon.
A full avalanche daily forecast is posted online at flatheadavalanche.org each morning at 7 a.m.