Good Morning. This is Ian Hoyer with pre-season avalanche, weather and event information for the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center on Friday November 13th at 7:30 a.m. This information is sponsored by Yellowstone Club Community Foundation and Montana State Parks. We will issue the next bulletin as conditions warrant.
*Note: Bridger Bowl Ski Area is closed and there is no avalanche control or ski patrol services. Backcountry conditions exist. Workers are setting up for the season and making snow. Please stay clear of work areas, snow guns, chair lifts and other equipment.
Since Monday, intermittent snow showers brought 1-6” of new snow, favoring the mountains around Bozeman. Winds have been westerly at 15-30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph.
Snowfall will begin this afternoon, with up to 8” falling near West Yellowstone and Cooke City by tomorrow morning and 1-3” near Bozeman and Big Sky. Strong west winds are expected today and tomorrow as the front moves through. Another small pulse of snow favoring West Yellowstone and Cooke City will move through on Sunday. Mountain temperatures will remain below freezing in the mountains over the weekend and then rise a bit next week.
This week’s new snow and strong winds brought avalanches along with them. Yesterday, skiers in the northern Bridger Range triggered a small wind slab that broke 6” deep and 50 ft wide (photo). Another similar slide was reported in the area as well. This is a good reminder that it doesn’t take a lot of new snow to cause avalanches, especially when there are strong winds to drift that snow around. Stay on alert - we will have both more new snow and more strong winds over the next few days.
Snow coverage is still spotty in most areas. Slopes with the most coverage are generally wind drifted, shady, and higher elevation. They have been holding snow through the last month and a layered snowpack has started to develop. Whether you’re seeking out these slopes intentionally to ski or ride, or crossing them incidentally while pursuing another activity, careful assessment is needed if you’re getting into avalanche terrain.
Watch for shooting cracks, collapses, and recent avalanches as bulls-eye data the snow is unstable. Uncertainty is especially high this time of year - take a few minutes to get your shovel out to assess the snowpack before crossing any steep snow covered slope.
We’ll be updating the weather log, photos page and avalanche activity list daily and issuing early season updates throughout the fall as conditions merit. If you have avalanche, snowpack or weather observations to share, please submit them via our website, email (firstname.lastname@example.org), phone (406-587-6984), or Instagram (#gnfacobs).
Upcoming Avalanche Education and Events
See our education calendar for an up to date list of all local classes. Here are a few select upcoming events and opportunities to check out:
The 6th Annual MSU Snow and Avalanche Workshop will be an hour of live online talks each Monday evening in November.
Our popular Avalanche Fundamentals with Field Course will have online lectures the evening of December 2 and 3 with a choice of field days over the following two weekends. There are separate field sessions tailored for both skiers and splitboarders (Bridger Bowl) and snowmobilers (Buck Ridge). There will be a second course on January 23 and 24.
Last year, the “Avalanche Hour” podcast interviewed Alex and Doug individually. Besides acting as a helpful refresher for the coming season, there’s good information about our work at the GNFAC. Check out the Avalanche Hour’s long list of other great interviews as well.
Support the Friends of the GNFAC
This year, The Friends of the Avalanche Center were unable to host an in-person Powder Blast due to COVID. In place of their biggest fund-raiser, the Friends of GNFAC launched an online GoFundMe campaign. Please consider a donation, and we look forward to having an in-person event again in the future.
Here is an interesting interview with the Director of the Flathead Avalanche Center about the process of avalanche forecasting. He strongly encourages people to submit observations to their local avalanche center. We agree! The more data we have, the better our forecasts will be. Let us know what you’re seeing.