Experts Warn of Avalanche Danger Despite Warmer Weather

By Beacon Staff

KALISPELL – Avalanche experts are warning that dangerous snow conditions continue in Glacier National Park and the Flathead National Forest, despite the arrival of warmer weather at lower elevations.

Stan Bones, an avalanche analyst for the Flathead National Forest, said winterlike snow conditions similar to those found in February linger.

“A persisting buried weak layer exists, particularly on steep and sun-shaded northerly aspects,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tony Willits at the Glacier Country Avalanche Center said the avalanche danger is rated “considerable” between elevations of 5,000 and 7,000 feet in parts of the Flathead and Glacier parks area.

Willits said that while the sun has consolidated the pack on south-facing slopes, cold weather continues in the shady north sides of Montana’s mountains. That means a weak layer of ice remains buried in the pack. Pressure applied to that layer, either by more snow or a skier or snowmobiler, could trigger an avalanche.

Bones said that “until more springlike snow conditions develop, we expect this weakness to persist and remain potentially hazardous.”