GNFAC Avalanche Forecast for Fri Nov 19, 2021

Not the Current Forecast

This is Ian Hoyer with pre-season avalanche, weather and event information for the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center on Friday, November 19th. This information is sponsored by Highline Partners and Spark R&D.

Mountain Weather

Since Monday morning, a trace to 2 inches of snow has fallen across the advisory area. Temperatures cooled dramatically on Monday, getting down into the single digits F and staying below or near freezing for the rest of the week. Strong winds have been out of the west and southwest.

Snow will begin today and continue overnight. Expect 3-5 inches of new snow around Bozeman and Big Sky, 2-4 inches around West Yellowstone and 1-3 inches near Cooke City before snowfall tapers off tomorrow morning. Temperatures over the weekend will range from the low 20s to high 30s F. Skies will clear tomorrow and stay clear on Sunday. Winds will be moderate out of the southwest and west.

Snowpack and Avalanche Discussion

All Regions

Fresh drifts of new snow are the primary avalanche concern this weekend. Watch for signs that these drifts are unstable such as stiff hollow feeling snow with cracks shooting out in front of you. Be on alert with the new snow, after the last significant snowfall skiers triggered and were caught in the first avalanches of this year (details from the Fairy Lake area). Even very small slides can have big consequences with all the rocks that are still exposed. 

A layered snowpack has started to develop at higher elevations (photo). A natural avalanche last weekend in Cooke City broke 2-3 feet deep on weak layers near the ground (photo). Any slope that has enough snow coverage that skiing or snowboarding seems remotely like a good idea has enough snow that avalanches are also possible. That doesn’t mean you get a free pass if you’re doing a different activity - hunters, hikers, climbers or anyone else also needs to be thinking about avalanches if you encounter snow covered slopes steeper than 30 degrees.

Remember that there is a long season ahead. Keep your early season stoke in check so you don’t end your season before it really begins. If you’re out and about, let us know what you’re finding (submit observations here). Your observations are especially appreciated this time of year as we work to build a mental picture of our newly developing snowpack.

Doug will issue the next update on Monday morning. 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 (, phone (406-587-6984), or Instagram (#gnfacobs).


Upcoming Education Opportunities:

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. Get some tips from Dave Zinn in this Pre-Season gear check video.

November 18, 7-8 pm, Online Free 1 hr Avalanche Awareness in partnership with The Yellowstone Club Community Foundation. Link to Join Here.

December 1, 6-8 pm, Avalanche Awareness and Beacons at Beall Park. More info on our education calendar.

Our popular Avalanche Fundamentals with Field Course 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.

Our education calendar is full of awareness lectures and field courses: Events and Education Calendar.

Friends of GNFAC Powder Blast Fund-raiser

The Friends of the Avalanche Center are hosting the Virtual Powder Blast fundraiser. With only $6,500 left to go, help us reach the $65,000 goal. Your donations support free and low-cost avalanche education, beacon checkers at trailheads, beacon parks, weather stations, and GNFAC programs!

The Last Word

Doug was interviewed by Justin Angle for Montana Public Radio about his background, avalanches, and his work in Central Asia. You can listen to the interview HERE.

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