Beware! The Forest Roads Are Icy!
Actually, it's no laughing matter.
With the unusually warm temperatures in the Bitterroot Valley, the backcountry roads are hazardous.
The Bitterroot National Forest Supervisor Julie King is advising people to use extreme caution on the forest roads that are open.
Public Affairs Officer Tod McKay said that the high temperatures are causing runoff and snowmelt during the day, which freezes at night and creates sheets of glare ice on the mountain roads. And with any new snow, the ice will be covered by layers of snow, making travel even more treacherous.
At the same time, avalanche advisories have been posted frequently in the last two weeks, especially at the higher elevations. Wet, heavy snow on top of a dry, unstable snowpack leads to extreme avalanche conditions. Recreationists have already lost their lives this year in the Pacific Northwest.
McKay said vehicles should be equipped with 4-wheel drive, snow tires or chains. And let someone know when you expect to come back to town.
Besides those dangers, be careful on the roads, which are shared with snowmobilers, cross-country skiers, hikers and sledders.
King also said that some roads are muddy and can be damaged easily by too much traffic. Stay off the roads if you see lots of ruts. She said the Bitterroot National Forest has a limited budget for repairs.