UPDATE: 3:09 p.m. - Feb. 19, 2021
MISSOULA - An avalanche warning was issued on Friday by the Missoula City Fire Department for Mount Jumbo.
It should be stressed that there is no immediate threat to the public, but a warning like this is never something to take lightly.
MTN News talked with Fire Chief Jeff Brandt who noted that with increasing snow levels -- and the inconsistent weather we’ve had lately -- his department reached out to the West Central Montana Avalanche Center and asked that they just check out the hill.
Sure enough, their avalanche specialists found an unstable snowpack on the mountain’s west-facing slope above the city.
Officials say there’s no immediate threat to the urban Missoula area, but they’re asking everyone to play it safe and to stay off the mountain and cooperate until that warning is lifted.
They’re hoping warmer temperatures coming this weekend will reduce avalanche danger. But for now, they say we have “the recipe for an avalanche,” so avoid Mount Jumbo until things are safe.
"In and around the Montana area, certainly avalanches are triggered for many different reasons, but human-caused avalanches -- whether you know folks are just hiking, skiing, snowmobiling, whatever they're doing recreating -- a lot of those disasters do happen because of a human cause factor," Brandt said.
Avalanche specialists also inspected the slide paths on the East Missoula side of the mountain and found there is not enough snow to pose a threat.
(first report: 1:45 p.m. - Feb. 19, 2021)
City officials are warning people to say off of Missoula’s Mount Jumbo due to the possibility of avalanches.
However, there is no immediate danger to the urban Missoula area if the public cooperates and stays off the mountain, avalanche professionals from the West Central Montana Avalanche Center told the City of Missoula on Thursday afternoon.
Working cooperatively with the Missoula Fire Department and its drone program, the avalanche specialists found an unstable snowpack on the mountain’s west-facing slope above the city and observed that “the recipe for an avalanche is present” in the potential start zones.
They encourage the public to observe the winter closures on the mountain, as winter closures reduce the chance of a human-triggered slide. The public can also help by reporting violations to 911.
Warming temperatures this coming weekend will also reduce avalanche danger.
The West Central Montana Avalanche Center works with the Missoula Fire Department under a cooperative agreement, in cooperation also with the City’s Parks and Recreation Department.
“We are being proactive,” said Missoula City Fire Chief Jeff Brandt.”