Regional Conditions for Centennial Range

as of 5:00 am
Mar 270″ | 15-25 W
Mar 26 2″ | 5-10 NW
Mar 25 3″ | 15-50 W
8775′     3/27 at 10:00
17 ℉
SE - 4 mph
Gusts 7 mph
7750′   03/28 at 2:00
22℉
Depth
Bottom Line: Recent snow and strong winds have created dangerous avalanche conditions. Winds yesterday were stronger than expected, gusting up to 35 mph out of the west. These strong winds rapidly built cornices and heavily wind loaded many slopes. Many avalanche were reported yesterday on wind-loaded slopes. Avoid wind-loaded slopes today. If the new snow becomes wet, it will slide easily and far on the ice crusts beneath it.

Snow Observations- Centennial Range & Lionhead

Centennial Range
Centennials - Montana
Mt. Jefferson
Incident details include images

We rode around most of the Jefferson area. The area is covered in tracks wall to wall. Reminded me of Teepee basin after a holiday weekend. It was hard to find untracked snow. Really hard. Winds have blown but just didn't have much snow to move. We rode in a lot of avalanche terrain and even climbed several steep chutes. 

Notice a weak layer that produced ECTP15. I saw no signs of this layer in crossing test slopes or riding above another sidehill track
We triggered one wind slab about 10 ft wide and 4-8 inches deep. 
 
Full Snow Observation Report
Centennial Range
Centennials - Montana
Hellroaring yurt, centennial range

we observed approximately 20 inches of new snow from the storm Wednesday 2/5 to Sat 2/8 morning. The storm ended very warm, even with about 10 minutes of rain Sat morning. This formed a thin breakable rain crust up to 9,000 feet. Over the day Saturday, we received an additional 2 inches of low density snow and heavy wind from the NW as a cold front passed. Sunday was clear, calm, cold, but by mid day had warmed south facing slopes to the point of wet roller balls. The only natural slide observed was in the buffalo hump area on a NE facing slope below a cliff band. It looked to be 2 feet deep, 200 feet wide.

Pit data:

On Sunday morning, pit dug on a SE facing slope 8400 feet. 152cm snowpack. ECT 13 broke at 125 cm, Quality 2. This broke on a rain/sun crust. Facets 0-30cm. The crust formed Saturday morning was prevelant and would be of concern after an additional load.

Pit on N facing aspect at 7800 feet showed 180cm depth and stable. Conducted CT and shovel shear with no results. However, Crust from Sat morning rain was evident and could be of concern after additional load.

We found the best conditions to be in protected bowls on West to North to East aspects.

Full Snow Observation Report
Centennial Range
Centennials - Montana
Hellroaring
Incident details include images

Spent the afternoon in Hellroaring drainage trekking to the hut. Around 2:30 the clouds cleared allowing us to view higher peaks and bowls. Did not observe any crown lines on steep cut banks above the creek, or higher up. Expected to hear and see more signs of instability, but did not. Suprisingly little wind and drifting during the last storm, 18-24" consolidated new snow in the last 2 weeks as evidenced by accumulation on the hut. Snow depth at 7500' in a SW facing meadow was 150 cm. Fairly close to what the White Elephant Snotel reports just a few miles away. Didn't have time to do pit tests since I was dropping a group off and my dog ruins any sense of an "undisturbed column", however in general this new snow apprears to have developed into a very dense and stiff slab 18-25" everywhere likely hiding the lurking dragon in low angle terrain we stayed in during our approach.

Full Snow Observation Report
Centennial Range
Hellroaring Creek
Tin Cup Pass-Mt. Jefferson-Centennials

Aspect: north
Slope: 30
HS: 160cm
Basic snow structure: round 160cm-50cm rounds, 50-40cm facets, 40-0cm large facets.
ECTX
CT13 at 40cm not planar

Full Snow Observation Report
Centennial Range
Reas Peak
Read Peak, Centenials -Island Park, ID
Incident details include images

Pictures sent to me from an out of state friend. No other info at this time other than that he was able to ride through it uphill.

Full Snow Observation Report
Centennial Range
Centennials - Montana
Hellroaring Drainage
Incident details include images

During a 3+ mile tour from 6500' to 8500' we did not witness any old or recent avalanche activity on upper elevation slopes, or low elevation areas such as steep banks leading to the Hellroaring Creek where we have in previous season, that isn't to say that high winds haven't filled any observable crown lines in. The snow depth in this region was surprisingly shallow given the reported snow depths at reporting snotel stations. i.e., White Elephant Snotel. It seems as though high wind has scoured exposed areas including ridge tops West facing slopes heavily. Between 7,500' & 8,300', all NW-SW aspects had roughly 65cm of unconsolidated snow. The lower half of the snow pack consisted of various sized facets depending on aspect. In general, we observed a snowpack with poor structure and fair strength. Pit results did not yield propagation in any layers. Compressions tests showed low quality shearing at the interface between the new snow and the older faceted layers.

Full Snow Observation Report
Centennial Range
Two Top
Centennial Range and Two Top

As you're well aware, the snowpack around West is crap. We found conditions on Two Top to be very similar to Lionhead. We didn't see any avalanche activity but did get some large collapses and unstable test results. Surprisingly, conditions were quite different in the Centennials. We rode on the west side of the range and found 30-50 cm's of snow on south and west-facing slopes. These aspects lacked weak layers near the ground and had a relatively shallow but stable snowpack. As we ventured onto shadier slopes (north-east) we found a different structure. Snow from early in the season had faceted and was capped by a 30-50 cm slab. In general, the snowpack in Centennials is better than Lionhead and Two Top.

Full Snow Observation Report

Avalanche Activity- Centennial Range & Lionhead

Northern Gallatin
Mt Blackmore
Human Triggered Soft Slab Avalanches - Mt Blackmore
Incident details include images
Mt Blackmore
SS-ASc-R1-D1-S
Elevation: 10,000
Aspect: N
Coordinates: 45.4444, -111.0040
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

Snowfall throughout the afternoon fluctuated between S1 - S5 (during brief squalls). The winds started out moderate and from the west but calmed by the last lap ~5 pm. The new snow (from last night/this morning) was fairly well bonded to the sun/melt-freeze crust below, but the storm came in subtly upside down. Today’s snowfall (accumulating ~3” while skiing between 1-530) was light. Right along the ridgeline, we triggered 4 predictable small storm slabs 4~6” deep on the upside-down storm snow from last night/this morning, but surprisingly not on the old crust. They were each 5-10m wide x 5m long and only ran ~5m vertically. 


More Avalanche Details
Northern Madison
Wilson Peak
Skier triggered wind slab on Wilson Peak
Incident details include images
Wilson Peak
SS-ASu-R2-D1.5-I
Elevation: 10,100
Aspect: N
Coordinates: 45.3270, -111.3250
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

From IG post with #gnfacobs: "I triggered a small windslab, mid slope on the north face of Wilson. It was a a pretty stubborn slab that broke above me. Cross loaded from lookers right. 6-8” deep." Photo: B Gill


More Avalanche Details
Cooke City
Lulu Pass
Snowmobiler triggred slide near Lulu Pass, Cooke City
Incident details include images
Lulu Pass
AMu-I
Coordinates: 45.0709, -109.9580
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

Doug talked on the phone with a snowmobiler who triggered a slide outside Cooke City today (3/15/2020). The details:

  • It occurred somewhere between Round Lake and Lulu Pass, likely nearer to Lulu.
  • It was snowing hard most of the day and they had poor visibility.
  • The slide was triggered by 1 sledder. He was not caught.
  • The avalanche broke 1 foot deep and 100 feet wide. It was believed to be new snow, but not wind-loaded.

More Avalanche Details

Photos- Centennial Range & Lionhead

Displaying 1 - 40
  • Snowfall throughout the afternoon fluctuated between S1 - S5 (during brief squalls). The winds started out moderate and from the west but calmed by the last lap ~5 pm. The new snow (from last night/this morning) was fairly well bonded to the sun/melt-freeze crust below, but the storm came in subtly upside down. Today’s snowfall (accumulating ~3” while skiing between 1-530) was light. Right along the ridgeline, we triggered 4 predictable small storm slabs 4~6” deep on the upside-down storm snow from last night/this morning, but surprisingly not on the old crust. They were each 5-10m wide x 5m long and only ran ~5m vertically. Photo: Z Miller

  • This is a photo of a small roof avalanche near Island Park. Warming temperatures cause water to percolate through the snow which lubricates the sliding surface. Roof avalanches have injured and killed people in the past, just one more thing to worry about. Photo: M.E. 

  • Dave Zinn digs a hand pit along the ridge to assess how the new snow is sticking to the ice crust. Photo: GNFAC

  • Obs: "School bus size cornices over Easterly portions of Lionhead Ridge. It is hard to tell from the photo, but the largest cornices were about 20-25' tall. We dug a few pits on East Facing slopes between 9,000-9,500 ft with the worst result being an ECTN-21 however these Cornices are primed and ready to fall with the abundant sunshine and warming weather." Photo: JR

  • From e-mail: "Natural wet slides... caused us to back off our plan of heading that way and ski a north, shady aspect instead. On a southern aspect. 9000ft. 1:30pm. We dug a hasty pit and observed a weak layer about 1m down. The facets were beginning to round." Photo: K. Master

  • From IG post with #gnfacobs: "I triggered a small windslab, mid slope on the north face of Wilson. It was a a pretty stubborn slab that broke above me. Cross loaded from lookers right. 6-8” deep." Photo: B Gill

  • From IG post with #gnfacobs: "I triggered a small windslab, mid slope on the north face of Wilson. It was a a pretty stubborn slab that broke above me. Cross loaded from lookers right. 6-8” deep." Photo: B Gill

  • We dug near the top of Bacon Rind and found 155cm of snow. Our primary concern is with the upper snowpack. As it warms and wets we can expect an increase of avalanche activity on the ice crusts. Facets are still dry and soft at the bottom of the pack and I got this layer to break with an ECTP29. Photo: GNFAC

  • Point releases across highway from Bacon Rind. 3/6/2020.

    Photo: GNFAC

  • Point releases across the highway from Bacon Rind. 3/6/2020

    Photo: GNFAC

  • Wet slide in Buffalo Horn Creek. 3/6/2020.

    Photo: A. Norlander

  • Overview of an avalanche triggered on 2/27/2020 at 8:30 p.m. by a groomer between Storm Castle and Swan Creeks in the northern Gallatin Range. The driver was ok, but the machine did a full barrel roll and was very badly damaged. Photo: GNFAC

  • An avalanche triggered on 2/27/2020 at 8:30 p.m. by a groomer between Storm Castle and Swan Creeks in the northern Gallatin Range. The driver was ok, but the machine did a full barrel roll and was very badly damaged. The debris piled 8' deep on the road, which creates a terrain trap. Photo: GNFAC

  • From obs form: "While approaching Black Mountain from Pine Creek Lake.... We skied South aspect and as it warmed we triggered D1 R1 slabs that ran slow and short." Photo: T. Hoefler

  • From email: "Photo attached of a natural avalanche from yesterday, just south of Cooke City.  It's on an E, NE aspect, with a crown around 9,300'.  Looks like it occurred yesterday am, as a result of a cornice fall." B. Fredlund

  • Skiers saw this 2-4' deep natural crown on Sunday 2/23/20. Photo: from IG @skishot

  • "Avalanche debris we encountered while skinning up the access road. It piled roughly 15-20 feet onto the road." Photo: T. Papritz

  • "Very large and destructive deep slab just north of emigrant peak on a east-facing aspect. The debris likely ran over 1000 vertical feet and stopped towards the bottom right of the image. We think the smaller slide on the far right was triggered as a secondary slide as a result." Photo: T. Papritz

  • "Very large and destructive deep slab just north of emigrant peak on a east-facing aspect. The debris likely ran over 1000 vertical feet and stopped towards the bottom right of the image. We think the smaller slide on the far right was triggered as a secondary slide as a result." Photo: T. Papritz

  • From IG #gnfacobs post: "An avalanche from early Tuesday (02/18) morning caused by a natural cornice fall. Note the step down partway down the path. ENE @ 9700. Ran 1300’." Photo: A. Whitmore

  • From IG #gnfacobs post: "An avalanche from early Tuesday (02/18) morning caused by a natural cornice fall. Note the step down partway down the path. ENE @ 9700. Ran 1300’." Photo: A. Whitmore

  • We rode into Lionhead and found good stability. A sledder highmarked up the hill and then came down right next to us, confirming our results. Wind-loading from yesterday is still a concern, and so are the facets near the ground, although less so than a couple weeks ago. Photo: GNFAC

  • "Noted two SS-D1.5/2 naturals (presuming based on lack of any sort of tracks) on Wheeler, typical spots for these conditions, both SE aspect around 8000'." Photo: G. Antoniolli

  • "Noted several avalanches (NW aspect ~ 8800') off of Elephant that traveled quite far into the trees where the summer trail typically runs, all appear to be new snow, D1- D2 in size, average 2' crowns, running on old/new interface from  Feb 2. They appear to have run midstorm, sometime yesterday (photos 1,2,3).  Above 9000', W Winds were crafting fresh wind slabs that were most reactive on a midstorm crystal/density change that buried a layer of stellars ~ 1' deep in shallower spots,  topped with denser snow." Photo: G. Antoniolli

  • "Natural avalanche. North facing slope. Around half mile wide. Photos don't show half of the slide. Broke on the ground facets. Crown was between 3 and 15 feet deep. We didn't get a photo of the deepest crown. Ripped trees out around 5" diameter." Photo: Reed Malmstrom

  • "Natural avalanche. North facing slope. Around half mile wide. Photos don't show half of the slide. Broke on the ground facets. Crown was between 3 and 15 feet deep. We didn't get a photo of the deepest crown. Ripped trees out around 5" diameter." Photo: Reed Malmstrom

  • On private property, this small child triggered a slide and climbed out of the debris, not buried. A very close call! On the heels of this large snowstorm there are possibilities of children getting caught on road cuts or any open hill!  Photo: Anonymous

  • We triggered this avalanche in the second Yellow Mule off Buck Ridge on 2/6/2020 It is on a small roll/cornice "in the flats". It broke within the current 2-3' storm snow. Photo: GNFAC

  • A snowmobiler triggered this avalanche in the second Yellow Mule off Buck Ridge on 2/6/2020 It is on a small roll/cornice "in the flats". It broke within the current 2-3' storm snow. Photo: GNFAC

  • We saw this natural crown that broke within the current 2-3' storm on a small terrain feature. It is in the second Yellow Mule off Buck Ridge on 2/6/2020. Photo: GNFAC

  • I took out my binoculars from our cabin on the west shore of Island Park Reservoir and noticed this huge slide in the bowl south of Reas peak. Started at the little tree band below the ridge, takes out 1/3 of the bowl, and runs into the Blue Creek terrain trap. I assume this is a natural avalanche as I don’t see tracks (hard to see in this light). Photo: M Elstad
  • I took out my binoculars from our cabin on the west shore of Island Park Reservoir and noticed this huge slide in the bowl south of Reas peak. Started at the little tree band below the ridge, takes out 1/3 of the bowl, and runs into the Blue Creek terrain trap. I assume this is a natural as I don’t see tracks (hard to see in this light). Photo: M Elstad
  • From riders involved: "Yesterday we were the ones in the big sky avalanche. There was no markings on the spot we were climbing. Further down the mountains there were climbs at the same angles of this slope. Thankfully the rider was above the slide when it started and managed to stay on top. Rider walked down the debris and we found the sled lower down in the trees. No injuries." Photo: Anonymous

  • From riders involved: "Yesterday we were the ones in the big sky avalanche. There was no markings on the spot we were climbing. Further down the mountains there were climbs at the same angles of this slope. Thankfully the rider was above the slide when it started and managed to stay on top. Rider walked down the debris and we found the sled lower down in the trees. No injuries." Photo: Anonymous

  • From obs. form: "[slope] Was marked up previously. We parked out near the bottom and a few guys not in our group start climbing. So we watch them climb. It breaks out. Guy ditches the sled and manages to stay up top. Sled goes down with the slide. Then the snow breaks in 2 other spots creating more slides." Photo: C. Carlson

  • The 10' deep avalanche in 2nd Yellowmule is almost completely filled in now. In its place are massive cornices overhanging the slope. Give these beasts a lot of extra room as they can break back far from the edge. Photo: GNFAC

  • Ian Hoyer stands in a snowpit in Beehive Basin. Avalanches are getting harder to trigger, but in more shallow areas we are still finding a poor snowpack structure. The stability test scores are climbing higher, but still propagating and we did not ski the adjacent slope. Photo: GNFAC

  • February 1, King and Queen of the Ridge at Bridger Bowl (fundraiser). This is the Friends of the Avalanche Center’s second biggest fundraiser of the year. Come on out and help us raise money by hiking and skiing laps on the ridge. Prizes, camaraderie and a good time is guaranteed. Register with Bridger to hike in the event, and create a pledge page to raise funds with your Ridge laps.

  • From email:

    "I wanted to make you aware of a snowmobile triggered slide in Lionhead today. Fortunately, I was not injured, was able to stay completely on top, climbed through the majority of the snow wash after seeing it begin to break, and relatively slowly slid down with the last of the moving snow while still on the machine. When I came to a stop, I stood up and was completely free of the snow. Our group is trained in avalanche safety, practiced beacon use prior to leaving town in the morning, were wearing avy gear, and were very fortunate that this ended up the way it did. 

    A clear reminder that this can happen to any of us and to be careful out there."

    Photo: Anonymous 

  • Snowmobiler triggered avalanche near Reas Peak on Sunday, 1/19/20. He was able to ride through it uphill. Photo: R. Gravatt

Weather Forecast- Centennial Range

Extended Forecast for

10 Miles ESE Lakeview MT

  • Overnight

    Overnight: A 20 percent chance of snow.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 14. West wind around 9 mph.

    Slight Chance
    Snow

    Low: 14 °F

  • Saturday

    Saturday: A 50 percent chance of snow, mainly after 10am.  Partly sunny, with a high near 30. West northwest wind 8 to 11 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon.  New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.

    Chance Snow

    High: 30 °F

  • Saturday
    Night

    Saturday Night: A 50 percent chance of snow, mainly after 10pm.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 19. South wind around 11 mph.  New snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.

    Chance Snow

    Low: 19 °F

  • Sunday

    Sunday: A 50 percent chance of snow.  Mostly cloudy, with a high near 32. South wind 11 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 22 mph.  New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

    Chance Snow

    High: 32 °F

  • Sunday
    Night

    Sunday Night: A 50 percent chance of snow.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 25. South wind around 13 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.  New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

    Chance Snow

    Low: 25 °F

  • Monday

    Monday: Snow.  High near 35. South wind 14 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 29 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of around an inch possible.

    Snow

    High: 35 °F

  • Monday
    Night

    Monday Night: Snow likely.  Cloudy, with a low around 22. Breezy, with a south southwest wind 18 to 25 mph, with gusts as high as 37 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

    Snow Likely
    and Breezy

    Low: 22 °F

  • Tuesday

    Tuesday: Snow likely.  Mostly cloudy, with a high near 29. Southwest wind around 18 mph, with gusts as high as 26 mph.

    Snow Likely

    High: 29 °F

  • Tuesday
    Night

    Tuesday Night: A chance of snow, mainly before midnight.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 14.

    Chance Snow

    Low: 14 °F

The Last Word

This article in Powder Magazine about backcountry skiing during the COVID-19 pandemic is worth a read.

The Gallatin County Health Department and the Montana Department of Health and Human Services websites have up-to-date information on all things Coronavirus related.