UPDATE ----- 11:00 p.m. from the Missoula County Sheriff's Office

'Sad news to pass along tonight as all of our search and rescue teams and assisting agencies have cleared the scene of an avalanche slide from earlier today near Lake Dinah. The two riders who were unaccounted for after the slide were found buried and were later pronounced dead on scene. SAR crews were able to transport the bodies to the trailhead after many hours of coordinated recovery efforts. The third rider who was able to call 911 was brought out with search crews and did not need medical assistance. Names will not be released until all family members have had the proper notification. Please keep these families in your thoughts and prayers.'

Public Information Officer Brenda Bassett told KGVO News on Wednesday afternoon that the area was identified as being in danger of an avalanche.

"The avalanche danger is considered very high in several areas around Missoula County," said Bassett. "The affected area is right where the snowmobilers were. There was heavy snow and warmer temperatures and strong winds, and it's all very dangerous to be in those areas right now. There are weak layers of snow pack and so we ask people to really pay attention to those warnings, as there is a reason why they are issued. As I said, that area is one of the most affected by avalanche danger."

 

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According to the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, a call has been issued for Search and Rescue volunteers to assist in a rescue mission near Dinah Lake in the Seeley Lake area.

The Facebook message says:

Today at approximately 2:15 pm, dispatch received a call from an individual who said he had been snowmobiling in the Dinah Lake area when he got caught in an avalanche. The caller indicated he was able to get out but that two others were buried in the slide. Right now, Seeley-Swan SAR, Missoula County SAR and their SAR K9’s, along with MESI and Seeley Fire are staging an operation to search for the lost individuals.

Avalanche danger is considered HIGH in several areas of Missoula County according to the National Weather Service. Please see the following information regarding these warnings.

* Affected Area...Southern Swan, southern Missions, Rattlesnake, and the central and southern Bitterroot mountains.

* Reason/Impacts...New heavy snow, warm temperatures and strong winds are creating very dangerous avalanche conditions. The new snow is stressing the weak layers in the snowpack.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended. Avalanches may run long distances and can run into mature forests, valley floors, or flat terrain. Avoid avalanche path runout zones.’

Search and Rescue was also involved in another snowmobile rescue in December near the same area.