THIS SNOWPACK SUMMARY EXPIRED ON February 10, 2017 @ 11:15 pm
Snowpack Summary published on February 10, 2017 @ 6:15 am
Issued by Ben Bernall - Kootenai National Forest
Avalanche Character 1: Storm Slab
Storm Slab avalanches release naturally during snow storms and can be triggered for a few days after a storm. They often release at or below the trigger point. They exist throughout the terrain. Avoid them by waiting for the storm snow to stabilize.

In the past 7 days snotel sites on the Kootenai have accumulated over 3 feet of new snow! This new snow has multiple weak interfaces that make for prime avalanche conditions.  This new snow is under additional stress now that warm temps and rain have moved into the mountains.  Smaller avalanches within this new snow have a high potential to step down to the weak surface hoar layer buried over 3 feet deep and create very large avalanches.  These factors combined are setting the stage for VERY DANGEROUS CONDITIONS THROUGHOUT THE WEEKEND! 

Backcountry skiers and snowmobilers are STRONGLY ADVISED TO AVOID GETTING ON OR NEAR STEEP TERRAIN.  Avalanches are releasing naturally at this time on all aspects in terrain over 30 degrees, steep slopes and steep sided gullies are dangerous places in these conditions.  Now is an easy time to make good, safe decisions.  Play it safe this weekend and save the steep terrain for another day.

Snowpack Discussion

Join us Wednesday, February 15th at the Libby Middle High School for a 2 hour avalanche awareness presentation.

recent observations

On Thursday February 9th we traveled to the Warming Hut in the Keeler-Rattle drainage.  The first sign of avalanche danger is "Avalanches"!  We observed a large debris pile at the base of Benning Mountain and fresh avalanche crowns on all aspects in our travels.  It was raining hard as high as we could see with the Bear Mountain Snotel reporting a temperature of 37.5 degrees.  Wet and miserable.

Fresh crown lines below Warming Hut. 5,500'.

I have not yet talked to the source but I have been hearing lots of rumors about a very close call and partial burial near Bear Mountain.  Sounds like a slope slide well into the timber on lower angle terrain and partially buried two snowmobilers that were digging out a sled.  This is a good reminder that we are in a time when avalanches have the potential to run far and large, the areas where one typically feels safe may not be.  Remember to pay attention not only to the slope you are on but the slopes above you as well. 

weather summary

Backcountry Forecast from NWS Missoula issued:
320 AM MST Fri Feb 10 2017

A cold front today will cause snow levels to start to fall today
with mountain showers continuing for the next few days with
minimal accumulations. A ridge will build over the area this
weekend and most of next week allowing cold nights and warmer
days with freezing levels in the 4,000 to 6,000 ft range during
the day. The next system looks about a week out, and it will be a
warm wet one, but so far does not look nearly as wet as the last
one for our region.


--------------------------- 5000-7000 FT ----------------------------
                                   Today           Tonight         Sat
Cloud Cover               85%               95%              80%     
Hi/Lo Temps              30 to 35        17 to 23        25 to 30
Winds(mph)               SW 19G39     SW 21G39     W 14G33 
Precip Chc                 70                  80                 50      
Precip Type               sno/shr          sno/shr          sno/shr 
Liquid Amt                0.11               0.16               0.06    
Snow Ratio(SLR)       17:1               18:1               19:1    
Snow Amt(in)            2-3                 3-5                1-2     

Snow Level              3000               2000             500   


This advisory applies only to backcountry areas outside established ski area boundaries. This advisory describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur. This advisory expires midnight on the posted day unless otherwise noted. The information in this advisory is provided by the USDA Forest Service who is solely responsible for its content.