2 snowmobilers dead after avalanche in northwestern Montana

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Two snowmobilers reported missing after an avalanche in northwestern Montana were found buried in the slide and pronounced dead Wednesday night.

Earlier in the day, a snowmobiler called 911 to report that he was caught in an avalanche in the Dinah Lake area northwest of Seeley Lake but managed to get out but that two other people were buried in the slide, the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office said. Search and rescue crews and dogs who then began looking for the missing two snowmobilers battled winds up to 60 mph (97 kph), the Missoulian reported.

The West Central Montana Avalanche Center had issued an avalanche warning Wednesday after a foot (30 centimeters) of heavy, wet snow fell on top of a weak snowpack Tuesday night. The warning continued Thursday for the southern Mission and southern Swan mountain ranges, the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and the southern and central Bitterroot mountains.

“The avalanche danger for the west central Montana backcountry is HIGH. Human triggered avalanches are certain,” the warning said.


The man who survived Wednesday’s avalanche was brought out with search crews and did not need medical assistance, the sheriff’s office said.

The names of the victims will not be released until all their family members have been notified, sheriff’s spokeswoman Brenda Bassett said. It is not clear where they were from.

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