Daily avalanche forecasts begin today

by Bigfork Eagle
| December 9, 2020 2:45 AM

The Flathead Avalanche Center will begin offering its daily online winter avalanche forecasts on Wednesday.

The platform allows individuals to track current avalanche conditions, learn where conditions are most dangerous during a particular day and what types of terrain offer lowest risk for recreationists. According to the center’s website, updates will be provided for the Swan, Flathead and Whitefish Ranges as well as for Southern Glacier National Park.

“It’s important for people to check the daily forecast before heading out into the snow,” said Flathead Avalanche Director Blase Reardon. “Backcountry skiers and snowmobilers especially need to know danger levels, though it’s a good idea for anyone doing snow sports in the mountains to have a basic idea of the avalanche risk.”

According to a press release from the center, although avalanche conditions have remained relatively stable since Thanksgiving, avalanche danger will likely increase with storms forecast for the next week.

This summer, public lands saw extensive recreation, and according to the press release, officials with the Flathead National Forest System expect the winter season may see similarly high use.

For people heading out into snow-covered backcountry areas for the first time, it’s very important to have a basic understanding of avalanche awareness and where to get safety and condition information. The Friends of the Flathead Avalanche Center - the nonprofit fundraising arm for the Flathead Avalanche Center - is offering adult education classes this winter for a variety of skill levels.

“We encourage people to look at our course schedule and think about pursuing some additional education. It could save your life or the life of a friend or family member,” said Emily Struss, director of operations for the Friends of the Flathead Avalanche Center. “We have a committed donor base who make these programs available at low cost and are dedicated to providing this education to people across the Flathead Valley.”

The website shows some classes have already begun and will be held through early March.

“In general, be willing to adjust your plans and match your travel practices to current conditions,” Reardon said. “Avalanche danger varies daily, so the forecast can help people stay in tune with changes even when they’re not in the backcountry. Always carry a full set of avalanche rescue gear - transceiver, probe, and shovel - and be alert for the obvious signs of danger: recent avalanches, whumpfing collapses which make a “whumpf” sound as the snow collapses, and shooting cracks in the snow.”

To view daily avalanche forecasts go to https://flatheadavalanche.org/advisories and to view winter safety education classes go to https://flatheadavalanche.org/education