Good morning. This is Ian Hoyer with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Forecast on Friday, April 1st at 7:15 a.m. This information is sponsored by Cooke City Super 8/Bearclaw Bob’s and Mystery Ranch. This forecast does not apply to operating ski areas.
There are 5” of new snow around Cooke City with 1-3” near Bozeman, Big Sky, and West Yellowstone. Temperatures are in the teens F. Winds are 10-15 mph from the west and northwest with gusts to 30 mph. Similar winds will continue today, shifting slightly southwest this afternoon. Temperatures will rise into the high 20s and 30s F. Skies will be mostly sunny this morning with increasing clouds this afternoon. Snow showers are expected tomorrow.
The primary concern today is avalanches breaking where the 5” of new snow has been blown into deeper drifts by northwest winds. Look out for and steer clear of these drifts to avoid the hazard. Watch for cracks shooting out in front of your skis or snowmobile as a sign that you’ve stumbled into a drift and back off steep slopes. Loose snow slides are also possible on sunny slopes. Today these will only involve the new snow, but could run long distances on firm crusts. It’s unlikely you’ll trigger an avalanche breaking deeper, but there are still weak layers lurking on higher and shadier slopes so it’s worth keeping the possibility in the back of your mind (Woody Ridge avalanche video).
Avalanches more than a few inches deep are unlikely. It’ll be possible to trigger very thin wind slabs and thin loose snow slides of the new snow heating up in the sun today, but they will generally be small and only worrisome in the most high consequence terrain. Keep an eye out in case you find a drift of windblown snow more than a few inches deep or a low elevation slope that remains wet and unsupportable. Be especially heads up in terrain where getting knocked off your feet by a small slide would have big consequences. If it gets hotter and stays sunnier than expected this afternoon, be on alert for crusts breaking down as this would mean you may be able to trigger a larger wet snow avalanche.
Yesterday Dave was in Hyalite pulling the weather station. He stopped to dig and test the snowpack before skiing avalanche terrain, got surprisingly unstable snowpack results (ECTP11) and chose a conservative exit from the area through dense trees (video). This is your reminder that LOW danger does not mean NO danger. It’s always worth checking to make sure you haven’t found the isolated slope where it is still possible to trigger a deeper slide. Use safe travel practices to cover your bases in case you do get surprised - always carry rescue gear (avalanche beacon, shovel, & probe), go one at a time on steep slopes, and watch your partners from a safe spot.
The avalanche danger is LOW today.
If you get out, please send us your observations no matter how brief. You can submit them via our website, email (firstname.lastname@example.org), phone (406-587-6984), or Instagram (#gnfacobs).
Hyalite Canyon Road is now closed to vehicle traffic for the spring thaw and will reopen on May 16th.