GNFAC Avalanche Forecast for Fri Feb 25, 2022

Not the Current Forecast

Good morning. This is Ian Hoyer with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Forecast on Friday, February 25, at 7:00 a.m. This information is sponsored by Blitz Motorsports and Yamaha and onX. This forecast does not apply to operating ski areas.

Mountain Weather

A light dusting of snow fell yesterday with less than an inch accumulating. Temperatures this morning are in the single digits below 0 F. Winds are remarkably calm (<10 mph at ridgelines) except for in the Bridger Range where they are blowing 20 mph and gusting 30 mph out of the west. Winds will increase across the rest of the area today up to 15-25 mph out of the west and southwest. High temperatures will be in the single digits and teens F under mostly sunny skies. No new snow is expected through the weekend.

Snowpack and Avalanche Discussion

Near Cooke City, there are weak layers buried a couple feet deep and you could still trigger a large avalanche. Over the last week there have been avalanches on these weak layers, including a fatal avalanche last Saturday on Miller Mountain (Miller Mountain, Mount Abundance, Round Lake). It is getting more difficult to trigger avalanches on these layers, but the weak layers are widespread and recent collapsing, cracking and poor stability test scores show they have not gone completely dormant yet. With the possibility of triggering large avalanches today - don’t let your guard down. Always carry rescue gear, go one at a time on steep slopes, and keep an eye on your partners so you’re ready to respond if something goes wrong. The avalanche danger is rated MODERATE.

Triggering large avalanches is unlikely in the mountains around Bozeman, Big Sky, and West Yellowstone. Still, keep an eye out for pockets of wind-drifted snow, as these are places you’re most likely to be surprised. Winds were out of the east earlier this week and will increase from the west this afternoon, so you could find drifts on just about any slope. Check to make sure any wind drifts you find are well bonded before riding steep slopes. It is also worth keeping in mind the weak, faceted snow in the top 18” of the snowpack. We haven’t seen many avalanches on these weak layers yet, but there may still be lingering spots where you could get unlucky and trigger a slide. Rescue gear, reliable partners, and safe travel practices are very worthwhile insurance in case you do find an isolated instability. Today, the avalanche danger is rated LOW

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 Education Opportunities

See our education calendar for an up-to-date list of all local classes. Here are a few select upcoming events.

March 4, Companion Rescue Clinic with the Bozeman Splitfest. Information and registration HERE.

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.

The Last Word

Yesterday, we visited two areas outside of our advisory area, but found similar conditions to those we’ve been seeing within our zones. On Sawtelle Peak, near Island Park (video) Dave and Doug found a generally stable snowpack with weak snow near the surface that may be a problem once it’s buried. I was near Independence (south of Big Timber) checking out the snowpack before the Sweet Grass County Recreation Association’s annual Poker Ride and found a snowpack more similar to that in Cooke City, with weak layers buried ~18” deep (video).