A small avalanche blocked a portion of Highway 200 west of Lincoln from Friday night into Saturday morning.
When the heavy wet snow from the storm released, it trapped a semi tractor-trailer.
Fortunately, the driver of the semi was not hurt.
A major factor in the avalanche was the gusty winds loading the snow up the hill.
For the avalanche to occur, the gravitational pull on the snow has to exceed the frictional force holding it down.
Avalanches can occur on just about any slope; they are not confined to just steep, mountainous backcountry.
For the latest avalanche conditions across southwest Montana visit the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center website. For avalanche conditions in western Montana visit the West Central Montana Avalanche Foundation’s website. Go to the Flathead Avalanche Center’s website for conditions in northwest Montana.
(DECEMBER 30, 2017) An avalanche trapped a semi truck on Highway 200 between Lincoln and Missoula on Friday night.
The slide happened just before 10:00 p.m. Westbound traffic was detoured at Lincoln; eastbound traffic was detoured at MT 141.
Lewis & Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said that search and rescue was called out to assist, but the response was canceled after the occupants of the truck were safely extracted.
Zach Muse, the chief of Lincoln Volunteer Fire Rescue, was at the scene.
He posted on Facebook at 3:45 a.m.: "Its free! But 200 will stay closed for clean up. Will open it up, but it is dangerous. Flat deadly out there. Horrible winds. The road is drifted, its solid ice where it isn't drifted, and there is so much snow that the road is a bit narrower. And there are e plows on it. They can't keep up. Not to mention the deer and moose are staying on the roads. Please stay off the roads. Its bad up here."
Muse later told MTN News: "There’s so many of those hillsides just like that along Highway 200, all of Montana, for that matter, and it can happen anywhere. Emergency officials say it’s emergency travel only...please stay home, please do it because there’s a reason for it. They don’t make these decisions lightly."
Mags Campbell posted on Facebook: "That was my husband driving. He is a contracted driver for the USPS. As you know the mail must go through, even at the expense of risking one's life in the worst kinds of weather conditions. I appreciate all of you and LC for risking your own lives to make others safe. Thank you for all that you do!"