This is Alex Marienthal with pre-season avalanche, weather and event information for the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center on Sunday, November 7th. This information is sponsored by Grizzly Outfitters and OnX Maps.
Last night’s storm dropped 6-9” of heavy snow in the Bridger Range, near West Yellowstone, and Cooke City with 1-2” near Big Sky and in Hyalite. Overnight wind was out of the southwest at 15-25 mph with gusts of 40-60 mph. Today wind will be west-southwest at 15-25 mph and temperatures will reach low 30s F. A couple more inches of snow may fall by the end of today. Monday will host mostly clear skies with temperatures in the low 30s F. The next round of snow is slated for Tuesday night and Wednesday.
The mountains have a fresh blanket of snow this morning with more forecast for mid-week. With this new snow we expect to see and hear about avalanches. Whether you take your boards or snow-machine out this week (probably too early/shallow for motorized travel) or by the end of the month, now is the time to start thinking about your next day on the snow. Get your avalanche brain ready for the season at one of the many classes listed on our education calendar and list of upcoming events below. Don’t delay preparing and inspecting your avalanche gear for the season. Get some tips from Dave Zinn in this Pre-Season gear check video.
The snow that fell last night was dense. The Bridger Range got 9” equal to 1.2” of snow water equivalent (SWE). West Yellowstone, the southern Madison Range and Cooke City got 6-7” of snow equal to 0.8” SWE. Big Sky and Hyalite got 1-2” equal to 0.2” SWE.
If you seek early season turns avalanches need to be on your radar. Carefully evaluate the terrain and snowpack stability. Avalanches will be most likely where wind drifted the new snow into thicker slabs. Be especially cautious where these wind slabs or new snow lie on top of old snow that remains on the ground from last month. The trickiest part is these are tempting places to ride since they have the deepest snowpack. If you have any notion the snow might avalanche, then ride terrain that is less steep than 30 degrees and not connected to anything steep above.
We are preparing for winter, teaching avalanche classes, and setting up weather stations. If you have avalanche, snowpack or weather observations to share please submit them via our website, email (firstname.lastname@example.org), phone (406-587-6984), or Instagram (#gnfacobs).
Upcoming Education Opportunities:
TONIGHT! Join the Avalanche Alliance on SnoWest Magazine’s Facebook page for a livestream interview with Doug Chabot, at 7pm Mountain time. Doug will share his views on keeping people safe in the backcountry.
On November 11th at 6pm Ian Hoyer will do a Forecaster Chat about early season snowpack and lessons learned from avalanche accidents, at Uphill Pursuits. More details available on the calendar.
Our popular Avalanche Fundamentals with Field Course returns this year with sessions in December and January. This program is perfect as a refresher or an introduction to avalanches. We are introducing an exciting new format this year with the four lectures pre-recorded to watch at your convenience, a live question and answer session, and a choice of a snowmobile or ski/ board based field day occurring the following three weekends.
Friends of GNFAC Powder Blast Fund-raiser
The Friends of the Avalanche Center are hosting the Virtual Powder Blast fundraiser. Your donations support free and low-cost avalanche education, beacon checkers at trailheads, beacon parks, weather stations, and GNFAC programs! The Friends of GNFAC launched an online GoFundMe campaign. Please consider a donation, and we look forward to having an in-person event again in the future.
Read accident reports from previous early season accidents before you venture to the snowy hills. This accident report from October 2012 in the northern Bridger Range, and this report from the tragic fatality four years ago in early October are reminders of the potential consequences of even a small avalanche early in the season.