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New snow raises avalanche danger across southwest Montana

By Katherine Mozzone, KTVM Reporter, kmozzone@ktvm.com
Published On: Feb 23 2013 09:04:28 PM MST
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

In southwest Montana, experts with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center say new snow is increasing avalanche danger.

Avalanche specialist Eric Knoff tells us he found between eight to 10 inches in Hyalite while he was out in the field, Saturday.
     
Already, the danger on wind-loaded slopes has risen to "high" in the Northern Madison Range and "considerable" for other slopes.  That means natural avalanches are likely and human triggered avalanches are very likely on wind-loaded slopes.  A "considerable" rating means human triggered avalanches are likely.
     
Knoff says, if it continues to snow, other ranges in the region could see a "high" rating on wind-loaded slopes.  

"Winds have kind of shifted to the north and there's plenty of fresh snow to blow around and form wind drifts, specifically in the upper elevation terrain- below ridge lines, cross-loaded terrain features.  So, wind loaded slopes are definitely the primary avalanche concern," says Knoff.

Knoff says they're also keeping an eye buried, weak layers of faceted snow, one to three feet deep.  He says that snow's under a lot of stress with a new load and may become more reactive if more snow falls or if someone triggers it in just the right spot.

That's why he's encouraging back-country enthusiasts to play by all the rules when they're heading out this weekend.