BOISE, Idaho (News Release) – Don’t be caught in an avalanche. That’s the message the Idaho Transportation Department shared in a news release Thursday afternoon.

“Avalanches happen in the spring from heat, often times on beautiful, clear days,” said Bill Nicholson, ITD’s head avalanche forecaster.

He said that while the amount of snow on the ground is significant, the more important indicator of avalanche danger in warm-weather conditions is the temperature of the snow at different depths.

Warming weather of approaching spring creates potential avalanche and rock fall conditions across the state. ITD says it’s best to plan ahead by calling 511 to check road conditions or visiting the 511 Traveler Information website before heading out, especially to the mountains.

Recently, a spring avalanche blocked a stretch of Idaho 75 in south-central Idaho at the same time crews monitored a section of U.S. 93 in eastern Idaho due to the threat of slides. The stretch of Idaho 21 between Grandjean Junction and Banner Summit is frequently the location of springtime avalanches.

These conditions occur every year due to warming weather and spring rains that cause instability to the existing snowpack.