Winter Danger - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

Winter Danger

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CODY, WYOMING -

Snowpack is up to 200% of normal in some parts of Wyoming, and there have already been several avalanches in Montana. One nearly buried a skier. Avalanche danger is considerable in many areas of both states.

Snowmobilers heading out of Cooke City, Montana, need to take care, according to the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Advisory. It says avalanche danger is "Considerable" on wind loaded slopes there, and in other parts of Montana.

A video on the Avalanche Center website shows how slabs of snowpack can shear away with just a little pressure. This created by more than one perfect storm.

Temperatures have dropped, but this is nothing compared to the cold snap of a few weeks ago. That created a layer of powder that's making snowpack very unstable right now.

The President of the Wyoming State Snowmobile Association, Bert Miller said, "Take a good look at your terrain. Before you do that, look at your exits, if something does happen."

A lot of Wyoming snowmobilers, like Miller, go up to Cooke City and the Beartooths to ride this time of year. He says you should check conditions before you leave home.

Miller explained, "Where ever you are in the state of Wyoming, you can pull up an avalanche report, and right now it's extremely high."

Park County Search and Rescue founder, Kirk Waggoner, has been saving people in Northwest Wyoming for more than forty years. An avalanche killed an ice climber here in 2009. Waggoner says skiers, climbers, snowshoers, and snowmobilers should go through classes for winter safety, and be equipped with, "An avalanche shovel. They make very compact folding shovels that fit in your backpack, an avalanche probe pole, which is a ten foot aluminum pole you can probe into a slide to locate a buried subject, and certainly an avalanche beacon."

Waggoner and Miller say you should not travel alone, but you and your friends should know when to stay together, and when to stay apart.

You can check online for avalanche conditions each morning at mtavalanche.com.

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