Season's first avalanche warning issued for NW Montana
Big Mountain is covered in fresh snow on Dec. 17, 2021. (Matt Baldwin/Daily Inter Lake)
| December 19, 2021 11:00 AM
The season’s first avalanche warning was issued Sunday for Northwest Montana following heavy mountain snowfall overnight. The warning was for the Flathead and Whitefish ranges, and Glacier National Park.
Overnight, heavy precipitation along with gusty winds and rising temperatures deposited a dense layer of snow on top of previous low-density surface snow, creating a dangerous upside-down snowpack, the Flathead Avalanche Center warned in its forecast Sunday.
Traveling in and below avalanche terrain was not recommended Sunday.
Storm totals varied from 9 inches at the summit of Big Mountain to 6 inches at Tunnel Ridge in the Flathead Range.
Yet another shot of winter weather is expected Sunday night into Monday, the National Weather Service in Missoula warned.
An Arctic front will sweep over Northwest Montana bring colder temperatures and moderate to heavy snow, as well as flash freezing to wet roadways in the valley.
Valley snow accumulations of 3 to 5 inches are possible, with isolated totals in excess of 6 inches by Monday afternoon.
The Weather Service warns that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day could serve up another winter wallop.
“Suffice it to say, the models are in agreement that periods of cold and snow will continue throughout the coming week,” the Weather Service stated in its Sunday forecast.
Visit flatheadavalanche.org for the latest backcountry conditions.