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New snowfall raises avalanche danger

By Katherine Mozzone, KTVM Reporter, kmozzone@ktvm.com
Published On: Jan 29 2013 07:37:21 PM MST

Photo Courtesy GNFAC

BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Experts estimate the Bridger Range saw around two feet of snow in less than 24 hours, take wind into consideration and you get high avalanche danger on steep slopes and wind-loaded terrain.

They say snow started falling at 1am and by 7:30am, Bridger Bowl was reporting 18 inches.

That amount of snow that fast has experts at the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center concerned, since they say snowpack has a tough time adjusting to snow coming in that heavy and that quickly.

In fact, they raised the avalanche danger for wind loaded and slopes steeper than 35 degrees to high.
     
That means natural avalanches are likely and human triggered avalanches are very likely.

The danger on all other slopes in the Bridgers is considerable.

Given this is the first good bit of snow we've seen for about ten days after warm days and freezing temperatures at night, experts say there's a weak layer at the surface in some spots that make avalanches even more of a possibility.

"If the wind picks up, we're going to be forming wind slabs, wind drifts and those are going to be easy to trigger tomorrow.  So, really encourage people to stay on top of it and we're supposed to get a little more snow tomorrow, as well, so, the conditions, they change quickly," says GNFAC Director Doug Chabot.