A bunch of new snow brings opportunity and some danger for outdoor enthusiasts. MissoulaAvalanche.org Lead Avalanche Specialist Travis Craft issued the first avalanche warning for the Missoula County area today, December 15.

"We use the North American Danger Scale, which goes from low to extreme," Craft said. "We are on 'considerable,' which is the third tier out of five steps. What that means is that on avalanche terrain we want to use cautious route finding and make careful evaluation of the snow pack."

Craft says the new snow fall on top of the old snow layer makes some areas particularly dangerous.

'Right now, we've had a bunch of wind and a bunch of new snow, so what we are looking at is leeward slopes with a wind slab that has fallen on top of a persistent weak layer, which is our basal fassets.

Spencer Bradford, Board President for the West Central Montana Avalanche Foundation says things are really dicey right now all around Montana and that observers have reported witnessing natural slides. Natural slides are one of the three big indicators for impending avalanche danger, along with visible shooting cracks, and a  "whumping" sound that occurs when snow settles underneath a traveler.

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