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There's snow falling in the high country of southwestern Montana, and with it comes an increased avalanche danger.

According to the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center's Doug Chabot, a couple of inches of snow fell Friday and Saturday night with much more in the last 24 hours.

Red Lodge Mountain got 10 inches of snow Sunday night and plans to open on Nov. 26, the day after Thanksgiving. The Bridger Range got 4-6 inches, the Hyalite area received 10-16 inches; the Big Sky area got 8-10 inches; West Yellowstone only received 3-4 inches; and Cooke City got 7-10 inches. Westerly winds are blowing 10-20 mph in the north, but reading 30-40 mph outside Cooke City.

More snowfall is expected through Tuesday, so now's the time to dust off your skis, snowboard or snowmobile and get ready for the winter season. But don't rush into the mountains unprepared.

"With wind speeds expected to drastically increase this afternoon and more snowfall in the next 36 hours, I expect avalanche activity will be peaking too," Chabot wrote in his daily avalanche report. 

"Reports from the Bridger, northern Gallatin and northern Madison Ranges indicate a solid base of dense snow at the ground -- a nice change from last year," Chabot said. "Even though I don't expect avalanches to break at the ground, I do expect them to break at the old snow surface and within the new snow from the rapid loading. Additionally, slopes near the ridgetop will have soft slabs from wind loading and be prone to slide. Continued snowfall and increasing winds today will only increase the instability.

 

Contact Brett French, Gazette Outdoors editor, at french@billingsgazette.com or at 657-1387.

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