This past Friday an avalanche struck Missoula, Montana burying three people alive. This raging snow, which fell from the peak of Mount Jumbo and caused an avalanche in Montana, is now said to have been started by a snowboarder.
The avalanche that occurred this Friday, Feb. 28, caused major property damage along with injuries. The stampede of snow, which rapidly fell from Mount Jumbo crushed and decimated a house in a residential area of Missoula, trapping the homeowners inside. Fred Allendorf and his wife Michel Jo Colville were inside their home when the avalanche hit and crushed it. The two were reportedly trapped in the remains of their house for hours, beneath the snow and rubble. First responders to the accident were able to shovel the couple out of the snow and debris after locating them with probe poles.
The avalanche also buried an 8-year-old boy who was playing in a neighboring yard during the time of the incident. All three of the victims were hospitalized after the accident. While the young boy is reported to be in fair condition and to make a full recovery, Allendorf is currently reported to be in serious condition. Colville is also receiving treatment and is in critical condition. Along with those who heroically rescued the avalanche victims, volunteers are now helping to dig out the raised home and are hoping to salvage important and valuable items from the house.
The U.S. Forest Service Avalanche Center in Missoula visited and researched Mount Jumbo after the devastating avalanche and found that the Montana avalanche had been caused by a snowboarder. The rider had been snowboarding down a trail on Mount Jumbo that had been closed to the public for recreational use for preservation reasons, giving wild elk land to roam and forage on. The snowboarder, who has yet to be identified or charged, triggered the avalanche when riding by causing movement in a top layer of hardened, packed snow, which was on top of a base of loose snow. As the layers of powder fell down the mountain it gained momentum and size, causing the catastrophic avalanche.
Scientists from the U.S. Forest Service Avalanche Center in Missoula have declared a High Avalanche Danger advisory for those living in or near Missoula, as the neighboring peaks, Mount Jumbo and Mount Sentinel, are snow laden and currently unstable. While evacuation is not being recommended or suggested, many Missoula inhabitants have temporarily vacated their homes after the Montana avalanche, which was caused by a snowboarder.
One of the main reasons that Mount Jumbo was susceptible to an avalanche, according to avalanche specialists, is due to a high wind slab or covering of snow resting atop of an ice crust on Mount Jumbo. Due to the existence of high winds, or the impact of a snowboarder, the snow sitting on top of the icy base can easily slip, beginning an avalanche.
Due to current snow and wind conditions in Missoula, specialists state there is a high risk for another avalanche to occur, similar to the Montana avalanche caused by a snowboarder. To promote safety and reduce the possibilities of another avalanche, the mayor has closed all parts of Mount Jumbo to human access and is asking all citizens to alert authorities if they notice a trespasser.
By Allison Longstreet