Good Morning. This is Ian Hoyer with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Forecast on Friday, January 24th at 7:00 a.m. Today’s forecast is sponsored by Cooke City Motorsports and Montana State Parks. This forecast does not apply to operating ski areas.
An inch or two of snow fell yesterday, accompanied by a little rain or freezing drizzle in some areas. Winds this morning are southwest at 10-15 mph. Temperatures are high teens to mid-20s F. Winds today will be 15-25 mph from the southwest and south. Temperatures will rise into the high-20s and 30s F. Precipitation today may start with a sprinkle of low elevation rain before switching over to snow. 1-3” of snow will accumulate by tomorrow morning.
With warm temperatures, dirt showing in town, and the possibility of a drizzle of rain today it may feel like spring, but it is not. It is still very much winter and we still have a winter snowpack. The weak snow at the ground can’t be trusted. Triggering avalanches is still possible and if you do trigger one it may break very deep. We’ve seen avalanches breaking 5-15 ft deep over the last couple weeks in windloaded areas. Take a look at the Avalanche Activity page to remind yourself how big slides have been recently. There have been a number of close calls with people triggering these deep slides (details, details, details). The likelihood of triggering an avalanche has decreased over the last week and no slides have been reported in the last three days. This is a good sign – but it’s not a free pass to ride steep slopes.
Skiers in the Bridger Range yesterday had a large collapse (100 ft across) on a slope that was just barely too low-angle to slide (details). They listened to the warning sign and turned around. Don’t count on getting one of these clear warnings. Triggering an avalanche may be the first sign of instability you find.
Yesterday, touring near Hebgen Lake, I found no signs of instability or unstable snowpack test results, but stuck with the plan I’d made before heading out by sticking to low angle slopes (video). The likelihood of triggering a slide remains high enough, and the size of a potential slide big enough, to remain very conservative in your terrain choices.
For today, large avalanches are possible and the avalanche danger is rated MODERATE.
Upcoming Avalanche Education and Events
Our education calendar is full of awareness lectures and field courses. Check it out and plan to attend one or two: Events and Education Calendar.
Every Friday and Saturday, Snowpack Update and Rescue Training. Friday, 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the Soda Butte Lodge. Saturday anytime between 10-2 @ Round Lake.
January 27, Avalanche Information and Demonstration Table, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Montana Science Center.
January 29, GNFAC Forecaster Chat: Avalanche Myth Busters, 6-8 p.m. at Uphill Pursuits.
January 31, Women’s Only Companion Rescue Clinic, 6 - 8 pm at REI followed by a field day February 1. More info and Register Here.
February 1, King and Queen of the Ridge at Bridger Bowl (fundraiser). This is the Friends of the Avalanche Center’s second biggest fundraiser of the year. Come on out and help us raise money by hiking and skiing laps on the ridge. Prizes, camaraderie and a good time is guaranteed. Register with Bridger to hike in the event, and create a pledge page to raise funds with your Ridge laps.
January 29 and 30, Introduction to Avalanche w/ Field Course, evenings of January 29 & 30 plus a field day February 1. Snowmobile specific field day offered February 2. More Info and Register Here.
January 25, 1-hr Avalanche Awareness, 7-8 p.m. at West Yellowstone Holiday Inn.
February 1, 1-hr Avalanche Awareness, 7-8 p.m. at West Yellowstone Holiday Inn.
January 28, 1-hr Avalanche Awareness, 6-7 p.m. Carroll College.
January 30, Introduction to Avalanche w/ Field Course, evening of January 30 plus a field day February 2. More info and Register Here.
An avalanche on 1/18 claimed the life of an 18 y.o. snowmobiler in Utah. He was riding with his dad when he was caught. He inflated his airbag, but the debris was so deep he was buried 9’ under the surface with his bag inflated. He was found with a beacon. Read the report HERE.