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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Saturday's avalanche advisory: Low danger

Posted By on Sat, Mar 25, 2017 at 7:24 AM

From the West Central Montana Avalance Center: The current avalanche danger is LOW for the West Central Montana backcountry. Low danger does not mean no danger and avalanches are still possible in isolated terrain. Carefully evaluate terrain to identify features of greatest concern. With temperatures above freezing later today avalanche danger will increase in the afternoon as the sun starts to affect the snow surface.
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Good morning, this is Logan King with the West Central Montana Avalanche Center’s avalanche advisory for March 25, 2017. This danger rating does not apply to operating ski areas, expires at midnight tonight and is the sole responsibility of the U.S. Forest Service.

For the full advisory, including photos and video, visit the West Central Montana Avalanche Center's website.

Here's what the National Weather Service's backcountry forecast has to say as the weekend continues:
Aside from the relatively dry periods of Sunday and Tuesday, high elevations snow showers will be present for much of the next week. Despite the high likelihood of snow, accumulations per event will be only up to several inches in a given day. Daytime temperatures will warm well above freezing each day, with overnight temperatures barely cooling to below freezing for some locations. Afternoon winds will become breezy at times,particularly this afternoon and Monday afternoon. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Montana news roundup, March 23

Posted By on Thu, Mar 23, 2017 at 4:43 PM

What others are writing about Montana this week, as collected by Mountain West News:

Montana lawmakers pass anti-Sharia law bill

Montana is one of 13 states, including Idaho, considering legislation this year that would prohibit the use of foreign law in state courts. Nine states already have similar laws, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures. (3/22/17, Buzzfeed)

Fewer migrating geese land at Freezeout Lake
Freezeout Lake, Montana’s primary snow goose staging area where as many as 300,000 snow geese and 10,000 tundra swans gather and rest before flying onward, appears to be hosting fewer birds this year, perhaps because of warmer weather. (3/21/17, Great Falls Tribune)

Bull trout are bouncing back in Glacier backcountry
In 2009, USGS biologists in partnership with Glacier National Park pioneered a new effort to suppress lake trout in remote backcountry lakes and reintroduce dwindling native trout populations. According to a recent study, published in Fisheries Management and Ecology, results show strong evidence of success, and indicate that the efforts could be applied to other invaded habitats and broader ranges. (3/21/17, Flathead Beacon)

For tribes, GOP health bill ‘stops the momentum’
The Affordable Care Act contains several health insurance reforms specific to Native Americans. In Montana and across the country, tribes are reporting significant improvements as a result of the reforms. Now, state and tribal leaders fear much of that progress could be lost if the House GOP proposal to replace Obamacare passes as currently written. (3/22/17, Missoulian)

The Colstrip quandary spawns 12 bills in Montana
The 2,094-megawatt coal-fired Colstrip plant in eastern Montana, with two of its four units shutting down by 2022, has lawmakers wrangling with whether, and how, to save a rural company town. (3/21/17, ClimateWire)

Mining bill ‘about learning the lessons from our past’
So says state Rep. Nate McConnell, a Democrat from Missoula, who has introduced a bill that would increase the amount of bonding required for certain mines that have a higher likelihood of producing acid mine drainage. It’s primarily intended to protect the Smith River from the proposed Black Butte copper mine near Sheep Creek, a tributary of the Smith, in central Montana, a river Montana U.S. Sen. Jon Tester has described as “one of the best places to float, fish, and camp, and one of the last places you can escape civilization and truly experience Montana as our ancestors did.” (3/20/17, Great Falls Tribune)

Democrats’ ‘center of gravity’ may be moving West
Politico reports from Helena, where New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s appearance at a Montana Democratic Party dinner on Saturday night “is a signal that potential 2020 [presidential] contenders are recognizing the subtle shift away from more traditional party power centers on the East Coast.” (3/19/17, Politico)

Money pours in to sway Tester’s vote on Gorsuch
A $900,000 TV ad “carpet bombing” attempted to get Montana Sen. Jon Tester to confirm Trump nominee Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. (3/19/17, Billings Gazette)


Mountain West News is a service of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West — a regional studies and public education program at the University of Montana. The Center’s purpose is to serve as an important and credible resource for people in the state and region in understanding the region’s past, present, and future. For more, visit mountainwestnews.org.

Thursday's avalanche advisory: Moderate danger

Posted By on Thu, Mar 23, 2017 at 9:49 AM

From the West Central Montana Avalanche Center: The current avalanche danger is LOW for the west central Montana backcountry and will rise to MODERATE this afternoon. Human triggered avalanches are still possible in isolated terrain this morning and human triggered avalanches are possible this afternoon.
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Good morning, this is Travis Craft with the West Central Montana Avalanche Center’s avalanche advisory for March 23, 2017. This danger rating does not apply to operating ski areas, expires at midnight tonight and is the sole responsibility of the U.S. Forest Service.

For the full advisory, including photos and video, visit the West Central Montana Avalanche Center website.

Here's what the National Weather Service's backcountry forecast has to say heading into the weekend:

A ridge of high pressure will dominate the region today through much of Friday. By Friday afternoon another weather disturbance will move through the region impacting the region with precipitation through Saturday morning. A couple of inches of snow are expected with snow levels lowering to 4000-4500 feet. Some higher elevations may receive up to 6 inches of snow. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Saturday's avalanche advisory: Moderate danger

Posted By on Sat, Mar 18, 2017 at 7:24 AM

From the West Central Montana Avalanche Center: The current avalanche danger in the West Central Montana Backcountry is MODERATE. Human triggered avalanches are possible in specific terrain. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully to identify features of concern.
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Good morning, this is Logan King with the West Central Montana Avalanche Center’s avalanche advisory for March 18, 2017. This danger rating does not apply to operating ski areas, expires at midnight tonight and is the sole responsibility of the U.S. Forest Service.

For the full advisory, plus photos and video, visit the West Central Montana Avalanche Center's website.

Here's a look at what the National Weather Service's backcountry forecast says about the rest of the weekend:

A warm and wet weather system will continue into tonight with rain totals of 1 to 2 inches common in north central Idaho and northwest Montana. West central Montana will see lesser amounts. A cold front late this afternoon into the evening hours will bring gusty winds, a few thunderstorms, and quickly drop snow levels. Cool and drier weather is anticipated for Sunday.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Thursday's avalanche advisory: Considerable danger

Posted By on Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 8:58 AM

From the West Central Montana Avalanche Center: The current avalanche danger in the West Central Montana Backcountry is CONSIDERABLE. Human triggered avalanches are likely in specific terrain. Careful evaluation of the snowpack and cautious-route finding are essential to recreate in the backcountry today.
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Good morning, this is Logan King with the West Central Montana Avalanche Center’s avalanche advisory for March 16, 2017. This danger rating does not apply to operating ski areas, expires at midnight tonight and is the sole responsibility of the U.S. Forest Service.

For the full advisory, including photos, visit the West Central Montana Avalanche Center's website.

Here's what the National Weather Service's backcountry forecast has to say as we head into the weekend:
The cold front will be through the region this morning and lower snow levels, gusty winds, and decreasing precipitation chances will be left in its wake. The best chances for any appreciable snow accumulations will be in the Beaverhead/Deerlodge and mainly this morning. A brief drier period remains forecast for tonight and Friday. Friday and Saturday will see warming temperatures and precipitation arrives Friday night with quickly rising snow levels.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Montana news roundup, March 15

Posted By on Wed, Mar 15, 2017 at 3:00 PM

What others are writing about Montana this week, as collected by Mountain West News:

Montana senators look to undermine lynx decision
Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines are among co-sponsors of legislation that would reverse a court ruling, known as the Cottonwood decision, that forced the Forest Service to do a top-level review of new critical habitat for lynx under the Endangered Species Act. (Missoulian, 3/13/17)

Interior Secretary Zinke faces delicate balancing act
Zinke’s stated priorities for Interior have been vague but unsurprising: rebuilding trust with the public, increasing public lands access, and improving outdated infrastructure at national parks. But those priorities are rife with controversy. (High Country News, 3/15/17)

Wyoming, Montana would see big tax credit cuts
Count Wyoming among the states where, under the Republicans’ American Health Care Act, an individual enrollee’s tax credit would decrease by more than $4,000 on average. Montana’s reduction would be more than $3,000. (Business Insider, 3/14/17)

Is now the time for Sen. Tester’s Blackfoot bill?
More than a decade in the making, the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act would expand Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex by 79,000 acres while also accommodating recreational and economic uses such as sustainable logging on adjacent lands. And it designates two recreation management areas: a 2,200-acre winter area open to to snowmobiling and a 3,800-acre summer area open to mountain biking. (High Country News, 3/13/17)

Wolverine study could lead to reintroductions
Wolverines number 250 to 300 in the mountains of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Washington. Their elusiveness makes them difficult to study. But now DNA and photographic evidence is being collected across the wolverines’ range in the West, which could lead to new conservation initiatives, one being reintroductions into areas where wolverines have been gone for a century. (Great Falls Tribune, 3/9/17)

Mountain West News is a service of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West — a regional studies and public education program at the University of Montana. The Center’s purpose is to serve as an important and credible resource for people in the state and region in understanding the region’s past, present, and future. For more, visit mountainwestnews.org.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Saturday's avalanche advisory: High danger

Posted By on Sat, Mar 11, 2017 at 8:34 AM

From the West Central Montana Avalanche Center: The avalanche warning has expired this morning, and the current avalanche danger in the West Central Montana Backcountry is still HIGH on wind loaded terrain above 7,000 feet. The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE on all other terrain. Below 7,000 feet the avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE but will move towards HIGH as the day warms up and the sun starts to affect the snow surface. Conditions are variable and careful evaluation is critical to recreate safely in the backcountry today.
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Good morning, this is Logan King with the West Central Montana Avalanche Center’s avalanche advisory for March 11, 2017. This danger rating does not apply to operating ski areas, expires at midnight tonight and is the sole responsibility of the U.S. Forest Service.

For the full advisory, including photos and video, go to the West Central Montana Avalanche Center website.

Here's what the National Weather Service's backcountry forecast has to say about the rest of the weekend:

The large scale pattern over the Western US this weekend into next week is a ridge of high pressure. However, there will be weather systems moving through the pattern, keeping weather active and causing periods of widespread mountain precipitation every couple days. The first system moves through Saturday night into Sunday morning, with snow levels between 4000 to 5500 (rising as one moves south). Several inches of fairly dense snow is expected in the high terrain overnight, turning to more  isolated showers by Sunday afternoon. Relatively warm systems, similar in nature to Saturday night's system, look to move through Monday night, Wednesday night, and Friday night.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Montana news roundup, March 9

Posted By on Thu, Mar 9, 2017 at 11:08 AM

What others are writing about Montana this week, as collected by Mountain West News:

Should Colstrip’s owners have to pay for closing it?

That’s the question Montana legislators are debating ahead of the impending closure of the older two of Colstrip’s four coal-fired units. One bill in the works calls for two of the plant’s owners, Puget Sound Energy and Talen Energy, to pay about $40 million between them to cover decommissioning costs and offset lost revenue to local governments and the state, among other things. One of the bill’s sponsors says $40 million is a “pittance” considering how much power the plant has provided the Northwest for some 40 years. But is it legal to require such a payment? And is it fair to demand compensation for closing uneconomic coal plants? (Great Falls Tribune, 3/5/17)

Zinke says Bears Ears has ‘smell of political agenda’
In a wide-ranging conversation with the Billings Gazette’s Tom Lutey, new Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke suggests the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, designated by President Obama in December, will be reviewed and its borders possibly changed. (Billings Gazette, 3/4/17)

The steep learning curve of owning a ski area
The new owners of Montana’s remote Maverick Mountain, Erik and Kristi Borge, explain how to own a ski area, step by step. (Powder, 3/7/17)

Zinke and the science behind lead poisoning wildlife
Curator of Natural Science Charles Preston of the Draper Museum in Cody, Wyoming, thinks it’s wise for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to take another look at the science behind lead ammo poisoning in wildlife. (Wyoming Public Media, 3/8/17)

What ‘repeal and replace’ could mean for Libby, MT
As one of Obamacare’s primary architects, former Montana Sen. Max Baucus built in three special provisions for residents of Libby, where asbestos from a vermiculite mine has killed more than 400 people and more than 2,000 others have been diagnosed with incurable, often fatal asbestos-related diseases. Those provisions include screening, automatic Medicare eligibility for those diagnosed, and a pilot program that provides wide-ranging medical care and home support not covered by Medicare. As Republicans look to repeal the Affordable Care Act, residents of Libby are paying especially close attention. (Montana Standard, 3/5/17)

Essay: A lesson about home in harsh places
…inspired by the Yaak Valley’s “World Famous Dirty Shame Saloon.” (High Country News, 3/6/17)

Mountain West News is a service of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West — a regional studies and public education program at the University of Montana. The Center’s purpose is to serve as an important and credible resource for people in the state and region in understanding the region’s past, present, and future. For more, visit mountainwestnews.org.

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Thursday's avalanche advisory: High danger

Posted By on Thu, Mar 9, 2017 at 8:02 AM

From the West Central Montana Avalanche Center: An avalanche warning is in effect for the west central Montana backcountry. The current avalanche danger is HIGH. Very dangerous avalanche conditions are present. Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended today. Human triggered avalanches are very likely, and natural avalanches are likely. Avoid runout zones.
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Good morning, this is Travis Craft with an avalanche warning for March 09, 2017. This avalanche warning will expire at 0600 am on March 10, 2017. The warning will be extended or terminated at that time.

This danger rating does not apply to operating ski areas and is the sole responsibility of the U.S. Forest Service.

For the full advisory including photos and video, head over to the avalanche center's website.

Curious what conditions will be like heading into the weekend? Here's what the National Weather Service's backcountry forecast has to say:

Widespread light snow down to 1500 feet this morning will slowly rise throughout today, particularly for all ranges south of I-90.

Significant heavy snow remains in the forecast for northwest Montana ranges, particularly in the vicinity of Glacier Park, this evening through Friday. An arctic airmass will move west of the Continental Divide today and stall along the Canada border today. The stalled edge of the arctic air will be a focal point for periods of intense snowfall. Up to 2 feet accumulation is expected along the Continental Divide. The arctic air will slowly retreat east late tonight, with snow levels and snow density increasing over time (i.e., upside down snow pack). Wind will also be a factor right along the Continental Divide, where east winds gusting to 30 mph will transport fresh snow to west facing slopes. Large fluctuations in temperatures will add to dangerously variable backcountry travel conditions.

Conditions for backcountry travel improve this weekend with high pressure overhead, however it is not necessarily a dry forecast. Snow levels will increase substantially through the weekend, reaching 5000 feet at times. Additional storm systems will bring more snow, mostly above 5000 feet, through the next week. Mountain snow pack will continue to steadily increase.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Thursday's avalanche forecast: Considerable danger

Posted By on Thu, Mar 2, 2017 at 8:20 AM

From the West Central Montana Avalanche Center: The current avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE in the west central Montana backcountry. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding, and conservative decision-making are essential today. Human triggered avalanches are likely.
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Good morning, this is Travis Craft with the West Central Montana Avalanche Center’s avalanche advisory for March 02, 2017. This danger rating does not apply to operating ski areas, expires at midnight tonight and is the sole responsibility of the U.S. Forest Service.

To see the full advisory, plus photos and video, visit the West Central Montana Avalanche Center's website.

Here's what the National Weather Service's backcountry forecast has to say heading into the weekend:

Scattered snow showers will be limited to northwest Montana Thursday and Friday as a ridge builds into the region and stabilizes the atmosphere to the south. Along with this ridge warmer temperatures back to near normal will occur. Saturday through early next week a more organized weather disturbance and cooler air will impact the region. Expect mountain snow accumulations through the middle of next week. 

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