The avalanche danger in the West Central Montana area was "Moderate" Thursday, according to the weekly update at the Missoula avalanche website. Travis Craft's alert said that human-triggered avalanches are possible, because of two weak layers in the snowpack, caused by the changing weather patterns we've been experiencing this winter. And those weak areas don't just disappear in a day or two. So, be careful.

This past week, temperatures have been a bit warmer and the wind out of the west has calmed down. The alert area, which includes the Bitterroot Valley, the Rattlesnake Wilderness and areas around Seeley Lake, has had a couple of inches of fresh snow.

The conditions have improved since last week, because warmer temperatures have "produced roller balls and loose wet slides on sun-exposed slopes to 8,000 feet," according to the statement. Those heading into the backcountry should choose simple terrain and avoid likely "trigger points." Always take along a beacon, a shovel and a probe. Tell someone where you're going and when you expect to be back. Be aware of changing conditions throughout the day. Our Montana mountains offer spectacular vistas, but you must be aware of your surroundings.

The advisories do not include established ski areas. The conditions are found on U.S. Forest Service areas. By the way, Missoula Avalanche is offering avalanche education to groups. They are also planning free avalanche awareness sessions throughout their alert area - with sessions planned online and including Lolo Pass, Lost Trail backcountry, Seeley Lake, and Rattlesnake Wilderness. You can find out more information at their website.

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