This is Ian Hoyer with pre-season avalanche, weather and event information for the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center on Tuesday, October 12th. This information is sponsored by The Friends of the Avalanche Center.
Since Sunday evening, 6 inches to a little over 1 ft of snow has accumulated across Southwest Montana (photo and weather log). Snowfall will taper off today as the storm system moves to our east. There may be a few more snow showers on Wednesday and Thursday before warmer and dryer conditions return for the following week.
For current weather data check SNOTEL sites throughout our advisory area and our weather log which will be updated throughout the fall. The GNFAC will be installing our weather stations as conditions allow in the coming weeks.
The first substantial storm of the season has coated the mountains and valleys with a blanket of snow and that means it’s time to think about avalanches. Be cautious of steep slopes with deeper snow, especially where there are thick drifts. If you’re out hiking or hunting, simply avoiding these drifted areas is the best strategy to avoid avalanches. Avoidance is more difficult if your goal is to ski, because slopes with deeper snow have the best coverage of natural obstacles. If there is enough snow to make turns, there is enough snow to avalanche. A small avalanche can cause season ending injuries (or worse) if it carries you into exposed rocks or trees. Travel and prepare for avalanches like you would in the middle of winter. This means travelling one at a time in avalanche terrain. Carry a beacon, shovel and probe at a minimum. Helmets are a good idea as well with the thin snow cover.
Accidents are not uncommon with early season snow and have injured skiers, climbers and hunters. This accident report from October 2012 in the northern Bridger Range has many useful lessons. This report from the tragic fatality in early October 2017 is a somber reminder of the potential consequences of even a small avalanche.
We are preparing for winter, scheduling avalanche classes, and setting up weather stations. If you have avalanche, snowpack or weather observations to share. Please submit them via our website, email (email@example.com), phone (406-587-6984), or Instagram (#gnfacobs).
Upcoming Avalanche Education and Events
Our education calendar is full of awareness lectures and field courses. Check it out: Events and Education Calendar.
Our popular Avalanche Fundamentals with Field Course will feature pre-recorded online lectures (available to watch on your own schedule), a live Q&A session the evening of December 2nd, and a choice of field days spread over the following three weekends. There are separate field sessions tailored for both skiers and splitboarders (Bridger Bowl) and snowmobilers (Buck Ridge).
Unfortunately, the Friends of the Avalanche Center are again unable to host an in-person Powder Blast this year due to covid. In place of their biggest fund-raiser, 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.