(MISSOULA)- The changing weather conditions are increasing the risk danger, especially in Northwest Montana, where the danger rating climbed to "considerable" today.
The Flathead Avalanche Center says new snow that started pushing into the region on Sunday brought heavy, wet snow to the mountains. That snow is landing on top of the crusty snow that formed during last week's cold snap, and the warm temperatures and wind have increased the risk, especially at mid and upper level elevations.
Those conditions prompted avalanche forecasters to raise the risk to "considerable", saying natural avalanches are "possible", and human triggered avalanches are "likely", with a chance for "very large avalanches in isolated areas."
Forecasters are warning backcountry users to avoid steep, open terrain until conditions settle again.
In the Missoula area, the West Central Montana Avalanche Center raised the avalanche danger to "moderate" on Tuesday because of the new, wet snow and high winds.
The Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center has also increased the avalanche risk to "considerable" and "moderate" in the Madison and Gallatin ranges, and the popular Lionhead area near West Yellowstone as well as Cooke City.
The Bridger Range and the Northern Gallatins have a "moderate" avalanche danger on wind-loaded slopes.