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Weather station in Whitefish Range to provide lifesaving data

by Whitefish Pilot
| September 21, 2022 1:00 AM

A new weather station was recently installed on Link Mountain in the Whitefish Range.

The Flathead National Forest Flathead Avalanche Center (FAC) and partner group Friends of the Flathead Avalanche Center (FOFAC) announced the installation of a new weather station on Monday. A press release states this station will provide lifesaving data for avalanche center forecasters in one of the most popular areas in the Whitefish Range.

This location is in the heart of the largest forecast area that has a history of avalanche fatalities and has a level of high use from both motorized and non-motorized recreators. This new station will allow forecasters to provide more accurate forecasts when they can’t be there.

“The Whitefish zone is the largest of our three forecast zones and the upper Whitefish River is becoming increasingly popular among a variety of users,” says Flathead Avalanche Center Director Blase Reardon. “It's difficult to access and there are very limited sources for weather data. This station provides data that will help us issue more accurate forecasts and real-time data to help users safely plan their trips.”

This is the third weather station installed through the partnership with FOFAC in the past five years. The other two were located on Mount Aneas in 2019 and Tunnel Ridge in 2020. These weather stations are operational year-round and also provide critical weather data to firefighters during wildland fire and prescribed burning seasons.

The cost to purchase and install took approximately $25,000 worth of fundraising through FOFAC. The station was placed on Link Mountain by helicopter with the assistance of the Flathead National Forest helitack crew and installation was provided by FAC specialists and Northern Rockies Science Center of the USGS for technical assistance.

"We're proud to work alongside FAC, with support from Avalanche Alliance and Yamaha's Outdoor Access Initiative, to provide recreationists with the information they need to make sound decisions and come home safely,” says Emily Struss, FOFAC Executive Director. “Our weather station network is critical for our forecast team and is an investment in our winter community's safety for years to come."

Since 2014, Flathead Avalanche has operated as a public-private partnership between FAC and FOFAC, a 501(c)(3) organization. Their purpose is to prevent the loss of human life, limb and property by human and naturally occurring avalanches by providing information and education for the community.

“While the need for a station like this is clear, we simply could not have made it real without the support from the Friends of the Flathead Avalanche Center,” says Reardon.

Learn more at flatheadavalanche.org, and follow them on Instagram and Facebook @flatheadavalanche.

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