2 snowmobilers dead after avalanche in northwestern Montana

Montana officials have released the names of two snowmobilers who died in a New Year's Day avalanche

MISSOULA, Mont. -- Authorities in Montana have identified two snowmobilers killed in a New Year's Day avalanche.

Jade Green, 24, and Lowell Grosvold, 26, both of Anaconda, were buried under several feet of snow, Missoula County Sheriff T.J. McDermott said Thursday.

A third snowmobiler was caught in the slide in the Dinah Lake area northwest of Seeley Lake, but managed to get out and call 911. Search and rescue crews and dogs who searched for the missing snowmobilers Wednesday battled winds up to 60 mph (97 kph), the Missoulian reported.

The West Central Montana Avalanche Center had issued an avalanche warning Wednesday morning 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, as 48-hour snowfall totals reached 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 feet (46 to 76 centimeters) by Thursday morning.

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

“To help you better understand our primary avalanche concern, imagine trying to park a Mack Truck on top of a box of champagne glasses,” forecaster Todd Glew wrote. “The new storm snow being the Mack Truck and the old snow being the box of champagne glasses. A recipe for disaster.”

The man who survived Wednesday's avalanche was brought out with search crews and did not need medical assistance, the sheriff's office said. His name has not been released.