Good morning. This is Alex Marienthal with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Forecast on Sunday, April 3rd at 7:00 a.m. This information is sponsored by Gallatin Valley Snowmobile Association, Cooke City Motorsports and Beartooth Powder Guides. This forecast does not apply to operating ski areas.
This morning the mountains have 4” of new snow in the Bridger Range, 2-3” near Big Sky and Hyalite, 1” near Cooke City and zero near West Yellowstone. Temperatures are low teens to mid-20s F and wind has been west-northwest at 15-25 mph with gusts reaching 40-60 mph overnight. Today will be mostly sunny with westerly wind at 10-25 mph and temperatures reaching mid-30s to low 40s F. The next chance for snow is tomorrow afternoon.
In the Bridger Range, 4” of new snow will easily slide with above freezing temperatures and clear skies this afternoon. On steep slopes that have a firm crust under the new snow and receive direct sunshine later today, avalanches of the new snow could run far and become large enough to bury or injure a person. Monitor how wet or moist the snow surface is as temperatures warm, and get off steep slopes before the new snow becomes wet. Additionally, watch for signs of unstable fresh drifts, such as cracking across the snow around your feet or skis, rounded pillow-like snow features, or wind blowing snow off ridgelines. Fresh drifts will also be more reactive if they sit on a firm crust.
Through the rest of the forecast area a person can trigger a small slab of recently wind-drifted snow or a small loose snow avalanche. Similar avalanches were triggered by skiers in Beehive Basin yesterday (details), and on Black Mtn. on Friday (details). Avalanches will involve 1-3” of new snow and probably be too small to bury a person, but even the smallest avalanche can knock you off your feet. Be cautious of steep slopes that have high consequences of being caught in a small slide, like above cliffs, rocks or trees.
It is unlikely to trigger a larger avalanche on deeper weak layers, but not impossible. Dave found buried weak snow in Hyalite a couple days ago (Flanders video), and yesterday skiers north of Bridger Bowl found similar unstable snowpack test scores (photo). Before riding steep slopes, dig to double check that a poor or unstable snowpack structure does not exist. Stack the odds in your favor by only exposing one person at a time to avalanche terrain and always carrying proper rescue gear. Today, large avalanches are unlikely and 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 (email@example.com), phone (406-587-6984), or Instagram (#gnfacobs).
Hyalite Canyon Road is now closed to vehicle traffic for the spring thaw and will reopen on May 16th.