Regional Conditions for Cooke City Area

as of 5:00 am
Today1″ | N/A
Mar 28 0″ | 10-15 NW
Mar 27 0″ | 15-30 SW
10,000′     03/29 at 02:00
15.1℉
SW - 8mph
Gusts 16mph
9100′   03/29 at 3:00
23℉
Depth
Bottom Line: Avalanches can break today on weak layers buried 1-2 ft deep underneath this week’s snow. These weak layers have been found across southwest Montana and we’ve seen a quite a few avalanches breaking on them. Use an Extended Column Test to look for and test the weak layer before getting onto a steep slope. The more deeply these weak layers are buried, the more problematic they will be, which means that wind-loaded slopes remain more worrisome than other slopes.

Past 5 Days

Tue Mar 24

Moderate
Wed Mar 25

Considerable
Thu Mar 26

Moderate
Fri Mar 27

Considerable
Sat Mar 28

Moderate

Avalanche Activity- Cooke City Area

Cooke City
Goose Creek
Skier triggered wind slab near Cooke
Incident details include images
Goose Creek
SS-ASc-R2-D1.5-O
Coordinates: 45.0931, -109.9510
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

Skier triggered avalanche in Goose Creek.

From obs: "Wind Loaded slope. 2ft Crown. 100ft wide. firm, crusty bed surface. The avalanche was released by a ski cut."


More Avalanche Details
Cooke City
COOKE CITY
Natural avalanche in Cooke
Incident details include images
COOKE CITY
SS-R2-D1.5
Coordinates: 45.0202, -109.9380
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

From email on 3/27/2020 : "natural slab avalanche I observed today near Cooke City.  An easterly aspect around 9,400'.  I'd estimate the crown to be 2-3' deep and about 100' wide.  Looks like it was triggered by a cornice fall (2-3 days ago?)."


More Avalanche Details
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

Photos- Cooke City Area

Displaying 1 - 40
  • From email on 3/27/2020 : "natural slab avalanche I observed today near Cooke City.  An easterly aspect around 9,400'.  I'd estimate the crown to be 2-3' deep and about 100' wide.  Looks like it was triggered by a cornice fall (2-3 days ago?)."

    Photo: B. Fredlund

  • From obs: "Wind Loaded slope. 2ft Crown. 100ft wide. firm, crusty bed surface. The avalanche was released by a ski cut." Photo: Anonymous

  • 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

  • From south of Big Sky yesterday 3/17 about 9:00, just north of Buck Ridge at 8500'. Large surface hoar on northerly aspects. Photo: Spence

  • 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

  • Small slab avalanche in the upper Republic Valley, a northeast aspect around 10,000'. Photo: B Fredlund

  • Snowmobile triggered avalanche near Lulu Pass. Photo: Anonymous 

  • Snowmobile triggered avalanche near Lulu Pass. Photo: Anonymous 

  • From e-mail on 3/15/20: "At around 1230pm today, everything that was steeper than 35 degrees in star Creek simultaneously slid on east, north, south aspects. Soft slab 6-12" in thickness. Prior to that, it had been snowing S5 for three hours." Photo: B. Zavora

  • Cornices are growing to immense sizes in Cooke City. Try to minimize your time underneath these monsters and stay far away from the edge if you are on ridge tops. Photo: GNFAC

  • Mike Thom, Gardiner District Ranger, stands in a 7-foot deep snowpit at 9900' on Woody Ridge to the south of Cooke City. We found wind-loading to be our primary concern. Facets were still present at the base of the snowpack, but they are stable for now. Photo: GNFAC

  • Strong wind stripped snow off many slopes above treeline. Photo: GNFAC

  • This naturally triggered avalanche likely happened Tuesday morning. Strong wind loaded slopes and made huge cornices. Photo: GNFAC

  • From e-mail: "...some wet loose avy activity observed today just west of Cooke City (south aspect, around 8200').  Overall though, minimal wet avalanche activity observed with this significant warm up..." Photo: B. Fredlund

  • 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

  • An avalanche was 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

  • 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

  • Small natural wind slabs on Crown Butte. Broke overnight, observed morning of 2/25/2020.

    Photo: GNFAC

  • Snowmobile triggered wind slab near Goose Lake. Triggered morning of 2/25/2020. Broke 1-2' deep on a small slope.

    Photo: GNFAC

  • From obs: "Seemed stability was getting better, but did see this minor slide that pulled out on Scotch Bonnet Mountain. Evidently triggered by a snowmobile sometime mid-day Saturday (2/22)." Photo: R. Larson

  • "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

  • From email on 2/21/20: "...observed today from the highway. It appears like it was probably triggered by a skier yesterday (on Feb. 20).  It was on a south aspect around 8,000', and estimated to be 1-2' deep and about 30' wide." Photo: B. Fredlund

  • "A small slide approx 100 ft wide ran about 40 vertical feet. Crown was 3-4 feet deep. Aspect, SE. Trigger unknown however tracks indicate it was likely a snowmobile trigger." Photo: Reed Youngbar

  • Cooke City is getting deep! The total snow height is 315 cm. Our pit results on Scotch Bonnet were a variety of ECTNs in the upper layers of the snowpack. When placing our probe for stability tests we could feel the weak snow near the ground as our probes just dropped through the lower 60 cm of the snowpack. I am still worried about the deep layers, but it has been a while since they performed and it seems like it will take a big trigger (i.e. a cornice drop), a big storm to add weight, or some really bad luck to trigger one of the monster avalanches on the basal facets. Photo: GNFAC

  • 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

Videos- Cooke City Area

WebCams


Soda Butte Lodge, looking West

Soda Butte Lodge, looking East

Weather Forecast Cooke City Area

Extended Forecast for

2 Miles NNE Cooke City MT

  • Today

    Today: A 40 percent chance of snow.  Partly sunny, with a high near 33. West southwest wind around 11 mph.  Total daytime snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

    Chance Snow

    High: 33 °F

  • Tonight

    Tonight: A 40 percent chance of snow, mainly after 9pm.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 18. West southwest wind 7 to 10 mph.  New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

    Chance Snow

    Low: 18 °F

  • Monday

    Monday: Snow likely, mainly after 3pm.  Mostly cloudy, with a high near 34. West southwest wind 8 to 17 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of around an inch possible.

    Snow Likely

    High: 34 °F

  • Monday
    Night

    Monday Night: Snow.  Low around 23. West southwest wind 15 to 17 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of around 3 inches.

    Snow

    Low: 23 °F

  • Tuesday

    Tuesday: Snow.  High near 26. West southwest wind 14 to 16 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of around 4 inches.

    Snow

    High: 26 °F

  • Tuesday
    Night

    Tuesday Night: A 50 percent chance of snow.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 7. New snow accumulation of around an inch possible.

    Chance Snow

    Low: 7 °F

  • Wednesday

    Wednesday: Snow likely, mainly after noon.  Mostly cloudy, with a high near 23. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of around 2 inches.

    Snow Likely

    High: 23 °F

  • Wednesday
    Night

    Wednesday Night: A 50 percent chance of snow.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 3.

    Chance Snow

    Low: 3 °F

  • Thursday

    Thursday: A 30 percent chance of snow.  Partly sunny, with a high near 24.

    Chance Snow

    High: 24 °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.