Avalanche Forecast published on October 12, 2018 @ 3:01 pm
Issued by Zach Guy - Flathead Avalanche Center

Whitefish Range
Swan Range
Flathead Range and Glacier National Park

How to read the forecast

Wintery conditions have left snow cover in some mountain areas, and it is time to turn your avalanche brains back on if you are traveling in steep, snow-covered terrain.  Be cautious of wind-drifted snow below ridgelines and in gullies.  A small slide can inflict harm if it drags you over rocks and vegetation.  

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Above 6500 ft.

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5000-6500 ft.

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3500-5000 ft.
Avalanche Problem 1: Wind Slab
  • Type ?
  • Aspect/Elevation ?
  • Size ?
    Very Large

Snow instabilities during the fall season are most commonly isolated to heavily wind drifted slopes at high elevations. Wind-loaded gullies and leeward ridgelines collect deeper snow accumulations and can harbor older layers for fresh slabs to slide on.  Visual cues, such as unusually smooth and deep snow cover, active wind-loading, or cracking snow are your best tools for identifying potential problem areas.  Slabs are most reactive after fresh snowfall and windloading events.  Consider the consequences of getting dragged over rocky terrain before traveling on any suspect slopes.  

Forecast discussion

Montana's avalanche fatality last October and this recent hiking related accident in Colorado are reminders that avalanches accidents can happen early season. If you are traveling in the high country, whether it is hunting, skiing, hiking, or climbing, bring the appropriate avalanche rescue gear and stay tuned into avalanche conditions. The Catch-22 of fall skiing and riding: the most dangerous ingredients for an early season avalanche (slab of cohesive snow over a continuous, older snow layer) often form in the terrain that offers the deepest, best turns.   The FAC will monitor conditions through the fall and post updates as conditions warrant. 

Now is the time to get your gear dialed and brush up on your avalanche knowledge.   The 2018 Northern Rockies Snow and Avalanche Workshop has a great lineup of presentations, vendor booths, raffles, and an all-around good time.  The event is November 3rd, 2018....all the details are here.  

weather summary

We will be producing mountain weather forecasts during our regular season operations.  You can find current weather information at


This advisory applies only to backcountry areas outside established ski area boundaries. This advisory describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur. This advisory expires at midnight on the posted day unless otherwise noted. The information in this advisory is provided by the USDA Forest Service who is solely responsible for its content.