GNFAC Avalanche Forecast for Thu Feb 13, 2020

Not the Current Forecast

Good Morning. This is Doug Chabot with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Forecast on Thursday, February 13th at 6:45 a.m. Today’s forecast is sponsored by Your Montana Chevy Dealers and Cooke City Super 8/Bearclaw Bob’s. This forecast does not apply to operating ski areas.

Mountain Weather

In the last 24 hours, low density pixie dust totaled 6” in the Bridger Range and 2” everywhere else except West Yellowstone. Wind has been light from the west at 5-10 mph with 20 mph gusts. Temperatures this morning are in the high single digits and will warm to the mid-20s under clearing skies. Wind will increase tonight from the west at 15-25 mph and no new snow is expected until tomorrow

Snowpack and Avalanche Discussion

All Regions

Throughout our forecast area the snowpack is trending towards stability. Snowfall in the last day was measured at 2.5% density which is another way of saying it is 97.5% air…almost weightless. Light wind is not loading slopes and Sunday was the last significant avalanche. Yesterday’s reporting of the avalanche on Saddle Peak was incorrect; it was an old avalanche, not a new one.

As expected, most avalanches ran during and immediately after the storm with the northern mountains, especially the Bridger Range, seeing the most action. The carnage is well documented in our Photos page, Avalanche Activity page and also listed on our Weather and Avalanche Log. Since then we’ve been in the field gathering information on the post-storm stability of the snowpack.

Yesterday, Ian went to Cooke City and Dave visited the Throne in the Bridger Range. Ian found one large slide on Wolverine Peak that broke in the storm snow and cautioned that although conditions are improving, in the immediate future slides are still possible (video). Dave had a similar message in his video since he found a very deep snowpack and could not get breaks in his stability tests, a positive, but muted sign, since he was surrounded by avalanches that broke over the weekend. I visited Mt Ellis on Tuesday (video), Taylor Fork and Cabin Creek on Monday (video) and Lionhead on Sunday (video). All 5 field trips had a similar message: the snowpack has mostly adjusted to the 3-5 feet of snow, yet sugary facets at the ground are occasionally breaking in our stability tests and remain the primary concern. On many slopes this layer already avalanched, but not on all. The chances of triggering avalanches is decreasing, yet not out of the question. That’s why I’m using words like “mostly”, “possible” and “trending” to describe the current state of affairs.

For today, the avalanche danger throughout our forecast area is rated MODERATE.

If you get out, please send us your observations no matter how brief. You can fill out an observation form, email us (, leave a VM at 406-587-6984, or Instagram (#gnfacobs).

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.


March 4, 1-hr Avalanche Awareness. 6-7 p.m. at REI.


February 22, 1-hr Avalanche Awareness. 7-8 p.m. at West Yellowstone Holiday Inn.

The Last Word

Explore Big Sky wrote an article on the new beacon checker at the Beehive Trailhead near Big Sky. It was a collaboration between the Friends of the Avalanche Center, the GNFAC and the Big Sky Community Organization.

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