Good Morning. This is Ian Hoyer with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Forecast on Saturday, March 6th at 7:15 a.m. Today’s forecast is sponsored by Spark R&D and Uphill Pursuits. This forecast does not apply to operating ski areas.
Mostly clear skies this morning will cloud over this afternoon as some light precipitation falls. Mountain temperatures are in the 20s and 30s F this morning and will rise into the 30s and 40s F. Hopefully this afternoon’s precipitation will be entirely snow, but it might start with a little bit of rain at lower elevations. Winds are 10-20 mph out of the south with gusts of 30 mph (55 mph in Hyalite). Similar winds will continue today. Expect only a light dusting of snow by tomorrow morning.
Wet snow and deeply buried weak layers are the two primary concerns today.
Yesterday, we got several reports of small slab avalanches breaking on low elevation sunny slopes, both skier triggered and breaking naturally (photo, photo). While these slides weren’t very large, they indicate that the potential exists for larger slides. Watch out for wet snow as the day warms up and crusts break down. Particularly watch for sunny low elevation slopes that are sheltered from the cooling effects of today’s strong winds. If it ends up raining more than a light drizzle this afternoon, just avoid all steep slopes. Rain is an abrupt change that can quickly make slopes unstable, particularly when it’s falling onto a previously dry snowpack. If you find more than a couple inches of wet snow, move to shadier slopes or head home.
The weak snow near the ground that we’ve been warning you about all year is still down there and it is still worrisome. The consequences of triggering a slide remain high and require continued vigilance. Don’t let yourself be lured into a false sense of security because the frequency of slides is going down. It remains possible to trigger large, dangerous avalanches on these weak layers.
The avalanche danger is MODERATE.
Large avalanches are unlikely in the mountains around Cooke City. However, that doesn’t mean you can turn off your avalanche brain. Be on the lookout for wet snow on sunny slopes as the day warms up and check to make sure you aren’t on a slope that has the isolated weak layers at the ground before committing to steep terrain. The recent avalanche that broke 3-4 ft deep on weak layers at the ground in Yellowstone National Park, outside our advisory area, is a good reminder to stay on your toes (details). The avalanche danger is LOW in the mountains near Cooke City.
The Beacon Park at Beall Park in Bozeman is running!
The Friends of the Avalanche Center in partnership with the City of Bozeman put in a Beacon Park at Beall Park. It is located on the north side of the Beall building between N. Bozeman Ave. and the ice rink. Stop by with your avalanche transceiver and do a few practice rescue drills. Your partner will thank you.
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.
Accident reports have now been posted for many of February’s tragic avalanche fatalities across the western US. Take a bit of time to read them and try to find lessons to help yourself become a safer backcountry traveller.