GNFAC Avalanche Forecast for Sat Mar 12, 2022

Not the Current Forecast

Good morning. This is Ian Hoyer with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Forecast on Saturday, March 12th at 7:15 a.m. This information is sponsored by onX and Grizzly Outfitters. This forecast does not apply to operating ski areas.

Mountain Weather

Since yesterday morning, there are 1-2” of new snow around Bozeman, with 2-4” around Big Sky, West Yellowstone and Cooke City. Temperatures this morning are in the 20s F. Winds are 15-25 mph out of the west with gusts of 35-55 mph. Gusts in Hyalite hit 68 mph. Strong west winds will continue today. High temperatures will reach the low 40s F in the north staying in the 20s F in the south. Skies will clear this morning with the next chance of snow arriving during the day tomorrow.

Snowpack and Avalanche Discussion

Avalanches can break on weak layers buried around 2 ft deep or in freshly formed wind drifts. Watch for cracking drifts and keep the possibility of triggering a much larger slide in mind if you’re thinking about riding in steep terrain (Scotch Bonnet avalanche video). An avalanche of newly wind drifted snow could easily pile up deep enough to bury you in a gully or push you into trees and it could also trigger a slide on those deeper weak layers. Human triggered avalanches are possible and the avalanche danger is MODERATE today.

Avalanches can be triggered today on slopes loaded by the strong west winds or those that are baking in the sun as temperatures rise above freezing. Especially on slopes with a firm crust underneath the new snow, loose snow slides could run a long way and entrain a surprising volume of snow. The snow surface becoming sticky, rollerballs, or fresh point releases are all clear signs that you could trigger a loose snow avalanche. Very strong winds have loaded slopes at all elevations. Slides could break in just the new snow or on weak layers that formed during our long January/February dry spell (photo, photo, Lionhead video). Be on the lookout for fresh wind drifts and stay off steep slopes if they’re cracking. The avalanche danger is rated MODERATE today.

Temperatures staying a bit cooler and somewhat lighter winds than in northern areas means you’re unlikely to trigger large avalanches today. Keep the same concerns in mind as in other parts of the advisory area - unstable wind drifts and wet loose slides. The key difference is that you’re less likely to find these concerns and any resulting avalanche will likely be smaller. Stay heads up in places where a small slide would have big consequences. The avalanche danger is LOW.

If you get out, please send us your observations no matter how brief. You can submit them via our website, email (, phone (406-587-6984), or Instagram (#gnfacobs).

Upcoming Education Opportunities

See our education calendar for an up-to-date list of all local classes. Here are a few select upcoming events.

Every Saturday near Cooke City, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. FREE snowpack update and transceiver/rescue training. Stop by for 20 minutes or more at the Round Lake Warming Hut.


The Last Word

Here is an all-time favorite presentation on Decision-making in extreme situations. It was presented at a Professional Development Workshop in Bozeman in 2019.

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