GNFAC Avalanche Forecast for Fri Mar 12, 2021

Not the Current Forecast

Good Morning. This is Ian Hoyer with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Forecast on Friday, March 12th at 7:00 a.m. Today’s forecast is sponsored by Montana State Parks and Blitz Motorsports and Yamaha. This forecast does not apply to operating ski areas.

Mountain Weather

There is no new snow this morning. Winds are light and temperatures are in the single digits and teens F. Temperatures will rise quickly this morning into the 30s F under sunny skies with continued light west winds. Warm and dry weather will prevail through the weekend. 

Snowpack and Avalanche Discussion

As the day heats up, the snow surface will become wet on sunny slopes and you will likely be able to trigger small wet loose slides. These will mostly be small and inconsequential, but could pose issues in places where getting swept off your feet, even for a moment, would be a problem. If you’re sinking deeper than your ankles into wet snow, be heads up, as larger and more dangerous wet slides are possible. As I found yesterday in the Southern Gallatin Range, on some of the lowest elevation, sunniest slopes with the thinnest snowpacks meltwater has trickled down through the whole snowpack (video). On these slopes, loose wet slides could gouge down to the ground and wet slabs are even a possibility. Today this will only be an isolated problem, but that may change with increasing warm temps over the coming days. 

On most slopes, the lower snowpack remains dry and there is still weak snow at the ground (Teepee Basin video). While we haven’t seen an avalanche on these layers in almost two weeks, keep the possibility of triggering a large slide breaking near the ground in the back of your mind. This is the epitome of a low likelihood, high consequence problem. 

Use good travel practices to cover your bases in the unlikely case you do trigger a big slide: always carry rescue gear, only expose one person at a time to avalanche terrain and have someone watching from a safe spot (travel advice video). 

Large avalanches are unlikely and the avalanche danger LOW

The lower snowpack is generally stable in the mountains around Cooke City and slightly cooler temperatures has kept wet snow from being much of an issue so far. Yesterday, Alex found minimal avalanche hazard north of town and identified wet loose avalanches involving this week’s new snow as the primary concern as temperatures continue to rise (video). Watch for pinwheels and rollerballs as signs that loose wet avalanches are imminent. 

The danger is rated LOW

If you get out, please send us your observations no matter how brief. You can submit them via our website, email (mtavalanche@gmail.com), 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:

March 20, 5:30 p.m., Snowpack Update for Bozeman Splitfest, online Link to Join HERE

March 24, 6 p.m., Free 1-Hour Avalanche Awareness, online Link to Join HERE

March 29, 6 p.m., Free 1-Hour Avalanche Awareness, online Link to Join HERE

The Last Word

The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine and Montana State University, are doing a brief survey to learn if, and how, use of the winter backcountry has changed due to the coronavirus pandemic.  The 5-minute survey is HERE.