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Avalanche danger listed as high in Bitterroot Range

Winter on the Montana-Idaho border includes scenic views and deep snow. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

Missoula Current

The Montana Avalanche Center on Wednesday rated the avalanche danger as “high” in the Bitterroot Range and “considerable” on other slopes in the west central Montana backcountry.

Travis Craft with the avalanche center said the advisory area has received a large new snow load over the past 24 hours, accompanied by high winds.

“Travel on wind loaded slopes is not recommended,” said Craft. “This means careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making are essential to recreate.”

While the danger rating doesn’t apply to operating ski areas, area slopes have recorded several inches of new snow, including Lost Trail, which picked up 14 inches from the latest storm. The ski patrol at Snowbowl reported 3 inches of new snow and slabs developing during the day.

“Widespread light to moderate snow and gusty winds will continue this morning and early afternoon for the mountains of western Montana,” Craft said. “Expect the avalanche danger to increase with continued snow and wind.”

Craft said the forecast area received 2 to 12 inches of new snow over the last 24 hours, with larger amounts in the southern half the advisory area. Winds have varied across the region, with gusts up to 14 in the Bitterroot and up to 40 miles per hour near Point Six.