Happy Holidays! This is Steve Karkanen at the West Central Montana Avalanche Center with the avalanche advisory for December 29th, 2008.
Please read the above link if you plan on skiing in western Montana. Danger is HIGH.
Remember the adage, be careful what you ask for? Well, we're getting what we've been asking for. The problem is that it's coming in a way that our current basal snowpack layers cannot support....
....The good news is that the new snow has been coming in gradually with a slow warm up. The weak layer near the rain crust is gaining strength over time and is adjusting quite well to each storm that slowly adds weight to it. The bad news is the cold temperatures we've experienced the past 2 weeks has allowed the weak granular sugary snow around the crust to persist so when we receive a storm that drops a lot of weight (several inches of snow or any amount of rain) it won't be able to adjust fast enough to be safe. The really bad news is that the forecast is calling for a warm up with significant snowfall and wind perhaps even rain at some mountain locations this weekend.
To learn more, visit http://www.missoulaavalanche.org/events/ for classes and films showing in the Missoula area. BE SAFE!!!
Jack and I have been cross country skiing almost every day. Here is a slideshow from yesterday.
If you are going out for a back country ski, tell people where you are going and when you expect to be back. Visit this link for Weather Forecast and Avalanche Outlook in the Missoula and Bitterroot area.