GNFAC Avalanche Forecast for Fri Jan 8, 2021

Not the Current Forecast

Good Morning. This is Ian Hoyer with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Forecast on Friday, January 8th at 7:15 a.m. This forecast is sponsored by Yellowstone Club Community Foundation and Spark R&D. This forecast does not apply to operating ski areas.

Mountain Weather

Since yesterday morning, 6” of new snow fell in the Bridger Range, 3-4” in Hyalite and around Big Sky, and 1” near West Yellowstone and Cooke City. Winds are light out of the west and northwest, with gusts to 25 mph in the Bridger Range. Temperatures this morning are in the teens to mid-20s F. Winds will remain light today shifting to the south and southeast. Clouds will dissipate this morning leaving mostly sunny skies this afternoon. High temperatures will be in the 20s and low 30s F. No new snow is expected through the weekend.

Snowpack and Avalanche Discussion

Triggering avalanches is likely today on steep slopes in the Bridger Range, Madison Range, southern Gallatin Range and Lionhead area. Numerous natural and human triggered avalanches have been reported over the last few days (see the avalanche log a full list). Some highlights include: natural avalanches on Saddle Peak and Fan Mountain, many natural and snowmobile triggered slides in the Taylor Fork, a remotely triggered avalanche in the northern Madison range, and a skier triggered slide in Bradley’s Meadow near Bridge Bowl. New snow over the last four days clearly pushed the snowpack past its breaking point. Unfortunately, these weak layers do not heal quickly. They are called persistent weak layers for a reason. While the northern areas got a bit more snow yesterday, the weak snow at the ground remains primed to avalanche across the region. Additionally, with the most new snow and strongest winds, newly formed wind drifts will be easily triggered in the Bridger Range. 

Avoid travelling on or underneath slopes steeper than 30 degrees today. The avalanche danger is rated CONSIDERABLE

The northern Gallatin Range has the same unstable combination with just a little bit less recent snowfall to stress the weak layers at the ground. Don’t let your guard down. Stay alert for signs of instability and dig to test the weak layers at the ground before committing to steep terrain. Human triggered avalanches are possible and the avalanche danger is MODERATE.

Over the last three days, skiers triggered an avalanche on Henderson Mountain, got collapses/whumpfs while skinning, and saw several avalanches north of town (details, photos and details). Yesterday, skiers south of town got very unstable test results on a weak layer buried 2 ft deep. While weak layers are not as widespread as in other regions, they are out there and need to be checked for before riding steep slopes. Digging in the snow is your best defense against these sporadically distributed weaknesses. Today, the avalanche danger is rated MODERATE.

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

Upcoming Avalanche Education and Events

See our education calendar for an up to date list of all local classes. Here are a few select upcoming events and opportunities to check out:

Every Saturday in Cooke City, FREE snowpack update and rescue practice at the Round Lake Warming Hut between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Poster with More Info.

TONIGHT! Friday night and Saturday, January 8 & 9. The Friends of the Avalanche Center are teaching a Companion Rescue Clinic. Learn about avalanche terrain, weather, decision-making and rescue. Get more information and register HERE.

Monday, January 11, 6-7 p.m. The Friends of the Avalanche Center will offer a FREE 1-hr Avalanche Awareness Talk in partnership with Uphill Pursuits. The talk will be given via a live ZOOM session. Please click the link below to join the webinar: Join HERE.

Tuesday, January 19, 6-7 p.m. The Friends of the Avalanche Center will offer a FREE 1-hr Avalanche Awareness Talk in partnership with the University of Montana Western School of Outreach. The talk will be a live, ONLINE event. Join us HERE.  

January 20 & 21 (plus field sessions the following weekends), Avalanche Fundamentals with Field Course. There are separate field sessions tailored for both skiers and splitboarders (Bridger Bowl) and snowmobilers (Buck Ridge). Register here.

The Last Word

Teton County Search and Rescue in Jackson, WY just released a great 2 min video titled Check Yourself, Check Your Friends: Every Single Time. It is a good reminder to be diligent in our preparation.


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