NewsMissoula County


Experts warn of “triggers” that could set off Mount Jumbo avalanche

Posted at 8:15 AM, Mar 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-06 10:15:47-05

MISSOULA – People are continuing to violate the closures on Mount Jumbo which has city officials reminding residents of the dire impact this could have for an avalanche trigger.

Avalanche experts say the warm temperatures have lessened the threat of an avalanche on Mount Jumbo – but Mount Jumbo remains closed. Not only is the area still closed, but avalanche experts say the mountain will most likely stay closed for a while.

Their focus now is not only on the current conditions – but triggers, as well. There are natural and artificial triggers. Natural triggers include wind, another snow event — or even rain. Humans or animals are considered to be artificial triggers.

Travis Craft with the West Central Montana Avalanche Center says that animals tracks, such as elk, have been spotted on Mount Jumbo and they are breaking up the snow which could make an avalanche smaller if triggered.

The City of Missoula and the West Central Montana Avalanche Center held a press conference on Tuesday to answer questions about the changing conditions.

Those conditions are safer due to the warm temps in the Missoula area. Craft added that they are being proactive with the situation, and have learned from past disasters like in 2014 when one person died after a slide in the Rattlesnake.

“We remember from 2014, the main cause of that was an artificial trigger. It was a snowboarder on the top that triggered the avalanche that did cause the fatality and buried four people,” Craft said. “So by limiting those triggers and respecting those closures were being proactive to the cause of 2014.”

The last thing emergency officials want is another fatal disaster so they are asking people to respect the closure and stay off Mount Jumbo.

Avalanches kill an average of 42 people each year in North America and hundreds more are injured.