Good morning. This is Alex Marienthal with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Forecast on Monday, January 10th at 7:00 a.m. This information is sponsored by Mystery Ranch and Cooke City Super 8/Bearclaw Bob’s. This forecast does not apply to operating ski areas.
This morning there is no new snow. Temperatures range from single digits F to low 30s F with an inversion making valleys colder than higher elevations. Wind has been west-southwest at 10-20 mph with gusts of 25-45 mph. Today will be sunny with temperatures reaching high 20s to mid-30s F and southwest wind at 15-30 mph. No snow is expected until later in the week.
It has been almost two days since heavy snowfall ended, and strong southwest winds have decreased to moderate. Over the last two days skiers and riders near Cooke City saw a handful of avalanches that broke on wind-loaded slopes during the storm on Thursday through Saturday (photo, photo, details, details). All these slides failed 1-3 feet deep within the recent snow that fell. Today it is possible for a skier or rider to trigger avalanches similar to these, especially on recently wind-loaded slopes. Avalanches could break deeper and wider on weak layers near the bottom of the snowpack. These larger slides are becoming less likely, but we’re not free of worry until we are further from the recent storm without seeing any of these deeper slides. Before riding steep slopes carefully assess the snowpack for signs of wind-loading and potential buried weak layers. Today avalanches are possible to trigger, and avalanche danger is MODERATE.
Yesterday in Beehive Basin a skier triggered a cornice from a ridgeline that created an avalanche on a heavily wind-loaded slope. Nobody was caught or harmed (photos and details). Doug and his partner were skiing in Beehive Basin and saw recent strong wind had transported all the snow it could (photo), and they found a layer of small facets that was buried by recent snow and wind drifts (video). Today it is possible to trigger recently formed drifts of snow, especially if they formed on top of this recently buried weak layer. Avalanches could also break deeper in the snowpack on weak layers near the ground, particularly near West Yellowstone and in the southern Madison and southern Gallatin ranges where there has been more snow and more avalanches occurred earlier this season on these deeper layers.
Before riding steep slopes assess potential for unstable drifts and be certain there are no potentially unstable buried weak layers. Human triggered avalanches are possible, and the avalanche danger is MODERATE.
Upcoming Education Opportunities
The West Yellowstone Beacon Park is up and running! Stop by to check it out and practice with your rescue gear.
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:
January 13, 6:30 p.m., Avalanche Awareness Night at Uphill Pursuits
January 13, 6-7 p.m., Virtual Avalanche Awareness with Basecamp Helena and Billings, Link to join.
January 15, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m., Avalanche Awareness and Beacon Park at Big Sky Community Park with Big Sky Community Organization.
January 20 + Field day. Our popular Avalanche Fundamentals with Field Course is perfect as a refresher or an introduction to avalanches. We are introducing a new format with four pre-recorded lectures 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 two weekends.
Every Saturday near Cooke City, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. FREE snowpack update and transceiver/rescue training. Stop by for 20 minutes or more at the Round Lake Warming Hut.
We are sad to report, On Saturday in Colorado two snowshoers and their dog were buried and killed in an avalanche. Our deepest condolences go to those affected by this tragedy. Preliminary info from CAIC.