Those of you anxious to get out and recreate in the latest blanket of Montana snow should take caution and be prepared.

The West Central Montana Avalanche Center has issued a backcountry avalanche warning, in effect until at least 6:00 a.m. Thursday. Recent heavy snow combined with weak snow structure could result in widespread avalanche activity. The danger for the warning areas is listed as high.

Affected areas include the mountains of west central Montana, including the Bitterroot, Rattlesnake, southern Missions and southern Swan Mountains near Seeley Lake. Both human-triggered and natural avalanches are likely on slopes steeper than about 30 degrees.

Backcountry travelers should stay off of, and out from underneath, slopes steeper than 30 degrees. The Missoula Avalanche website is a good source for updates and helpful advice.

Please stay safe and use caution this Christmas season, folks. We know lots of people are anxious to get out and enjoy a Montana winter, but the warnings are real.