Regional Conditions for Southern Madison

as of 5:00 am
Feb 155″ | 15-20 SW
Feb 14 10″ | 15-30 SW
Feb 13 6″ | 20-30 S
9460′     02/16 at 06:00
6.3℉
W - 7mph
Gusts 14mph
9000′   02/16 at 4:00
10℉
Depth
Bottom Line: Natural and human triggered avalanches are likely on all wind loaded slopes. Areas loaded by west-southwest winds will be the most susceptible to holding wind drifted snow. Human triggered avalanches are also likely on non-wind loaded slopes. During these conditions, avoiding steep slopes and avalanche run out zones is essential. This includes staying off small steep slopes like road cuts and creek beds that may seem harmless during more stable conditions.
Primary Problem: Wind-Drifted Snow

Past 5 Days

Mon Feb 11

Considerable
Tue Feb 12

Considerable
Wed Feb 13

Considerable
Thu Feb 14

High
Fri Feb 15

High

Avalanche Activity- Southern Madison

Lionhead Range
Lionhead Ridge
Snowmobile triggered at Lionhead
Incident details include images
Incident details contain video
Lionhead Ridge
HS-AMu-R3-D2.5-O
Elevation: 9,000
Aspect: E
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0
More Avalanche Details
Southern Madison
Bacon Rind
Collapse, cracking, and avalanche in distance at Bacon Rind
Incident details include images
Bacon Rind
SS-N-R2-D2
Elevation: 9,600
Aspect: NE
Coordinates: 44.9428, -111.1360
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

From an email, "My partner and I skied up bacon rind with plans on skiing the <30 degree run on the east face of Ernest miller ridge. On our way out there we had a large collapse, and saw shooting cracks.  We dug a pit at 9,150 ft on a E facing slope and got a ECT P16Q1 about 90 cm down.  Before this off in the distance (photo) we saw a massive avalanche in a 35 degree wind loaded NE slope at 9,600. It appeared to be about 1 - 1.5 m deep and 100 ft across."


More Avalanche Details
Southern Madison
Taylor Fork
Collapse south facing slope Taylor Fork
Incident details contain video
Taylor Fork
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

Large collapse on facets near the ground. The snowpack on this slope was less than 3' deep. 


More Avalanche Details

Photos- Southern Madison

Displaying 1 - 40 of 4.61168601843E+18
  • A large snowmobile triggered avalanche in the Gravelly Range (Outside of advisory area) on February 10th, 2019.

    From email: "One rider was involved in the incident and was fortunate to be on the upper left side of the bowl when he saw the slide start. ... the crown was about 325 wide and varied in depth from 1 to 4 or 5 feet.  The ridge line was wind loaded and this was an issue we had discussed as a group and wanted to avoid.  We had read the reports for the day and knew that wind loading as well as a persistent week layer were both concerns. .... The rider involved entered the area from around where the road switchbacked and did not realize what was above him due to reduced visibility."

  • A skier headed up Bacon Rind to Ernie Miller Ridge and saw this avalanche in the distance. He reported it, "35 degree wind loaded NE slope at 9,600. It appeared to be about 1 - 1.5 m deep and 100 ft across." Photo: W. Casper

  • Snowmobilers in the Lionhead area got unstable test results, easily propagating fractures in ECT tests on a weak layer buried about 50 cm deep. Photo: J. Norlander

  • We triggered this avalanche remotely from about 50 feet above the crown up on the ridge. The crown was 1-2' deep, 100' wide, and ran between 200 and 300 vertical feet through trees and cliffs. Another slide failed sympathetically at the same time, 100' down the ridgeline. The slides failed on a 40 cm thick layer of depth hoar, which composed half of the snowpack. Photo: GNFAC

  • We triggered this avalanche remotely from about 50 feet above the crown up on the ridge. The crown was 1-2' deep, 100' wide, and ran between 200 and 300 vertical feet through trees and cliffs. Another slide failed sympathetically at the same time, 100' down the ridgeline. The slides failed on a 40 cm thick layer of depth hoar, which composed half of the snowpack. Photo: GNFAC

  • We triggered this avalanche remotely from about 50 feet above the crown up on the ridge. The crown was 1-2' deep, 100' wide, and ran between 200 and 300 vertical feet through trees and cliffs. Another slide failed sympathetically at the same time, 100' down the ridgeline. The slides failed on a 40 cm thick layer of depth hoar, which composed half of the snowpack. Photo: GNFAC

  • Crown of avalanche that was triggered by a group of four skiers. Two were partially buried (1 injured, 1 killed) on 1/25/19. They were all ascending and near the top of the path when the avalanche broke. The top two skiers held onto trees as the avalanche pushed by them. Photo: GNFAC

  • Overview of avalanche path where a group of four skiers were caught, and two were partially buried (1 injured, 1 killed) on 1/25/19. Crown is marked by black line and location of partial burial/deceased is tip of red arrow. The other partially buried skier was 200' lower. They were all ascending and near the top of the path when the avalanche broke. The top two skiers held onto trees as the avalanche pushed by them. Photo: GNFAC

  • This avalanche propagated far in the new snow. A shallow snowpack of facets was especially thin and weak. We take note of these signs of instability because they can be windows into the poor stability in the backcountry. Photo: GNFAC

  • Sage Peak and Skyline Ridge have been wind scoured. The gullies are wind-loaded and the surface is blasted with nothing left to move. Photo: GNFAC

  • A rider found large crystals of feathery surface hoar in Teepee Basin on Tuesday, Jan 15. It was widespread and most crystals were 1/4-1/2" big, with this picture being the largest. It's now covered with 1-2" of snow. Photo: P. Smith

  • Skiers triggered this large slide as they ascended (2-3 feet deep x 400 feet wide). It broke on a NE aspect at 10,000 feet on a 40 degree slope. It was recently wind-loaded and failed on facets at the ground. This occurred on Monday, January 14. Photo: Anon

  • Sledder's triggered this slide on Skyline Ridge while highmarking on Sunday, January 13. Photo: M. Bednar

  • "One small slide on a N asp at head of Bacon rind creek, elev 8750,  had a crisper look than most of the others observed, suspect more recent." Photo: M. Best

  • A snowmobiler triggered this small avalanche on Friday (1/11) between the 3rd Yellow Mule and McAtee Basin on Buck Ridge. The slope has a terrain trap at the bottom where snow can pile deep and makes small slides more dangerous. The relatively shallow snowpack is weaker and shows that a poor snowpack structure exists on some slopes in the northern mountains of our advisory area, and makes avalanches possible to trigger. Photo: GNFAC

  • A rider experienced cracking on the edge of their tracks in Cabin Creek in the southern Madison Range. This is a sign of a poor, unstable snowpack structure. Photo: M. Lanterman

  • This graph shows snow water equivalent (SWE) by date at the primary SNOTEL sites that we use in the GNFAC region. From October 1st, 2018 to January 12th, 2019. Steeper lines indicate bigger storms and flatter lines indicate periods of little to no snow. A large storm at the beginning of Novermber laid down a 1-3 foot base. Relatively dry and cold weather through November caused much of that snow to become weak. This weak snow was buried by a series of storms. Avalanches were seen during and following many of these storms. During dry weather between storms, more weak layers formed on the surface of the snowpack and were subsequently buried. (Graph created by GNFAC from NRCS provisional data).

  • In Cabin Creek (1/10/19) we found a recently buried layer of surface hoar as well as the weak, sugary snow that makes up the bottom 1.5' of the snowpack in the southern ranges. Avalanches are possible to trigger on the sugary facets near the ground. Both of these weak layers will persist and cause avalanches when we get more snow and wind loading. Photo: GNFAC

  • February 2, King and Queen of the Ridge at Bridger Bowl (fundraiser). Register with Bridger to hike in the event, and create a pledge page to raise funds with your Ridge laps.

  • This small slide failed failed naturally on a wind loaded slope. Although not large, it's bull's eye information avalanches are possible in steep, wind loaded terrain. Photo: A. Wheeler 

  • This recent slab avalanche was observed in the Taylor Fork on Wednesday, Jan. 9th. It appears to have failed naturally on weak facets near the ground. Avalanche activity is the number one sign the snowpack is unstable. Although avalanches are becoming harder to trigger without new snow and wind, recent activity is a clear reminder avalanches remain possible. Photo: A Wheeler 

  • Skiers got this wind loaded slope to collapse and crack from an adjacent slope. A poor snow structure of facets underlying a harder wind slab was the culprit. Photo: D. Zinn

  • This was a recent snowmobile triggered avalanche In Tepee Basin, southern Madison range. This slide failed on facets near the ground and ran into a terrain trap. With more snow and wind in the forecast, it will be important to make conservative terrain selections. Photo: GNFAC 

  • We rode into Cabin Creek behind Sage Peak (via Taylor Fork) and found 2.5' of snow. The lower half was weak, sugary and unsupportive. The upper half was a slab of recent snow that collapsed with moderate force (ECTP 11). Our sled's tracks easily broke through 2.5' of snow to the ground, a sign of poor snowpack structure. Photo: GNFAC

  • Snow bikers in the northern Gallatin Range "witnessed a very reactive new snow layer in all wind loaded areas." (12/30). Photo: J. Polus

  • The snowpack at 9,000' above Hebgen Lake near West Yellowstone is 60-70cm (~2 feet) deep. It is mostly weak, sugary facets and will struggle to support the weight of future storms. Photo: GNFAC

  • From e-mail on 12/23: "About an 8 inch slab triggered by snowmobilers. South facing slope in the 3rd yellowmule at buck ridge." Photo: Crisman

  • Ski patrol triggered this avalanche at the Yellowstone Club on Sunday (12/16). "R3/D2 (8400’, ENE facing, 36deg start zone) that was about 120’ wide and ran vertically 200’. The crown was 1.5-2’, went to ground, and was a mostly faceted snowpack with a bit of wind effected snow in the top few inches. The slide was released from a 4lb air blast." Photo: YCSP

  • A snowmobiler triggered this avalanche on Saturday (12/15) near Buck Ridge. It is on a wind loaded slope and likely broke on buried facets that formed in early December.

  • A skier reported a recent slab avalanche at Ernest Miller in the southern Madison. This is a good reminder that as you move further south in our advisory area, we are seeing a thinner and generally less stable snowpack. Photo: C. Grote

  • A skier reported a recent slab avalanche at Ernest Miller in the southern Madison. This is a good reminder that as you move further south in our advisory area, we are seeing a thinner and generally less stable snowpack. Photo: C. Grote

  • Crack in a drift that collapsed 30 feet wide, accompanied by an audible "whumph", as we skinned over it. 12/15/18 West side of Bridger Range. Recent strong winds formed hard slabs over weak surface hoar and facets. Photo: GNFAC

  • This small wind slab was triggered by skiers descending from Imp Peak in the southern Madison Range. Although small, this slide is bull's eye information that larger slides are possible on wind loaded slopes. Photo: S. Knowles 

  • Cracking of fresh drifts was a sign that avalanches were likely on steep, wind loaded slopes on Saddle Peak. Photo: GNFAC

  • Snow water equivalent at SNOTEL stations in the GNFAC advisory areas for the 18-19 season to date. Weak layers formed on the surface of the snowpack during the dry weather (flat section of lines), then they were buried by the recent 10-14" of snow (steep increase at end of graph). Image: GNFAC

  • Climbers triggered this very small wind slab on the way to a climb up Flanders in Hyalite (11/11). A tiny slide to a skier can be bad news for a climber since losing one's balance or getting pushed off a cliff can be deadly. From an email (edited):

    Hyalite Snow Conditions:...we dug two hasty pits on east facing slopes in Flanders....
    8200'- isolated opening in trees in an area on rocks, shallower snow (~50cm). CT12 at the ground, again just tapping on the back of other hand, so not super legit, but did raise eyebrows.  
    8450'- Opening below cliff bands on exposed traverse. Deeper snow (~80-90cm). No concerns other than storm snow and snow coming off of cliff bands. Classic Hyalite shifty winds. We released a small (10-15cm) storm slab on traverse into the climb .  
    Weather: It was snowing and blowing all day.

    Photo: S. Magro

  • From an email:

    "By and large right side up snowpack. Some small facets below the 11/1 ice crust at the ground, but well bonded snowpack overall. Pit observations consistent with hand pits dug throughout the day touring north out of Bridger Bowl." Photo: M. Zia

  • From an email: "ECTP 5 at the top of a chute on the south face of the Texas Meadows knob. Propagated on a layer 15cm from the top of the snowpack." Photo: J. Zimmerer

  • From Instagram:

    "Careful out there this year! While we are lucky enough to have a mostly stable snowpack here in Southwest Montana, we did just find this little wind slab well below the ridge line in Middle Basin. Slowboarder was fine" @chartierk

  • A skier found 80 cm of stable snow on an east facing slope at 9200' in Beehive Basin. Winds created these newborn cornices along the ridge. Photo: T. Allen

Videos- Southern Madison

Weather Forecast Southern Madison

Extended Forecast for

20 Miles S Big Sky MT

  • Overnight

    Overnight: A 20 percent chance of snow.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 11. Wind chill values as low as -3. West wind around 10 mph.

    Slight Chance
    Snow

    Low: 11 °F

  • Saturday

    Saturday: Snow, mainly after noon.  High near 15. Wind chill values as low as -3. West southwest wind 9 to 11 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of around an inch possible.

    Chance Snow
    then Snow

    High: 15 °F

  • Saturday
    Night

    Saturday Night: Snow likely, mainly before 11pm.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 2. Wind chill values as low as -9. South southwest wind 7 to 9 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of around an inch possible.

    Snow Likely

    Low: 2 °F

  • Sunday

    Sunday: A 50 percent chance of snow.  Mostly cloudy, with a high near 11. Wind chill values as low as -9. North wind 5 to 9 mph.  New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

    Chance Snow

    High: 11 °F

  • Sunday
    Night

    Sunday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around -7. North wind 6 to 9 mph.

    Mostly Cloudy

    Low: -7 °F

  • Washington's
    Birthday

    Washington's Birthday: A 30 percent chance of snow, mainly after 11am.  Mostly cloudy and cold, with a high near 5. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.

    Chance Snow

    High: 5 °F

  • Monday
    Night

    Monday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around -9.

    Partly Cloudy

    Low: -9 °F

  • Tuesday

    Tuesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 11.

    Mostly Sunny

    High: 11 °F

  • Tuesday
    Night

    Tuesday Night: A slight chance of snow after 11pm.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around -2.

    Slight Chance
    Snow

    Low: -2 °F

The Last Word

The Friends of the Avalanche Center and Montana State Parks installed an avalanche danger sign outside Cooke City. It sits next to the beacon checker and will be seen by riders and skiers as they head out of town.


  <<  This is the most recent forecast.