KALISPELL — A combination of heavy snowfall and strong winds at high elevation led the Flathead Avalanche Center to issue their first avalanche warning of the season on Sunday.
The 24-hour avalanche warning expired Monday morning in the Flathead and Whitefish Mountain ranges and Glacier National Park.
Flathead Avalanche Center Director Blase Reardon expects avalanche conditions to remain dangerous throughout this week with the possibility of another warning being issued.
“That’ll depend on how strong these storms turn out to be, how much snow they deliver and how much wind they bring,” said Reardon.
Reardon said mountain ranges have seen a sudden uptick in snow, leading to dangerous conditions on steep slopes in high elevation.
“We’ve literally gone from 0-to-60 with our snowpack and that’s like 0" inches to 60" on the ground at a lot of mid-elevations in the last 2½-weeks,” added Reardon.
Reardon said those planning on venturing into the backcountry need to be well prepared with full avalanche gear and never travel alone. He said early season conditions can be some of the most dangerous.
“Snow immersion deaths, tree well deaths can be a real problem, and a small avalanche may not be particularly big but if it pushes somebody into a tree well it can have very serious consequences, particularly if somebody’s traveling alone,” added Reardon.
A full avalanche daily forecast is posted online at flatheadavalanche.org each morning at 7 a.m.