Updated: Avalanches, snow and ice in forecast for western Montana

Rob Chaney

After a sideways snow flurry blasted the Missoula Valley Wednesday evening, a weather system with “a lot of moving parts” should bring lots more snow to western Montana on Thursday and Friday.

The strong winds, low-teens temperature and steady snow Wednesday night prompted a High avalanche warning from the West Central Montana Avalanche Center on Thursday morning. 

“Dangerous avalanche conditions will develop today,” Center forecaster Ryan Sorenson wrote in Thursday morning’s advisory email. “Heavy snowfall and sustained winds continue to impact the area and build storm slabs across all elevations and aspects. Natural avalanches are likely, and human triggering is certain.” 

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The new snow was falling on a layer of low-density snow that had been gently building up through December, resulting in slabs up to 3-feet thick and “creating the perfect recipes for avalanches,” Sorenson wrote. Travel in avalanche terrain was not recommended.

“We’re looking at deep snow most areas through Thursday morning, with pockets of icy conditions Thursday and Friday, while mountains continue to get lots of snow,” National Weather Service meteorologist Trent Smith said on Wednesday. “Our mountains are looking to get anywhere from 2

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