This is Dave Zinn with pre-season avalanche, weather and event information for the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center on Monday, November 15th. This information is sponsored by Blitz Motorsports and Yamaha and Grizzly Outfitters.
Since Friday morning the mountains around Cooke City received 7” of dense snow with 2” in the Southern Madison Range. Temperatures were near freezing to the mid-40s F for the weekend with 15-25 mph winds and strong gusts from the west to southwest.
Mountain temperatures will range from the upper 30s to 50 degrees F on Monday before cooling and remaining below freezing for the remainder of the week. Snow returns with 1-3” Tuesday into Wednesday and another round of precipitation arriving as we head into the weekend. Winds from the southwest to the west will be 25-35 mph with gusts of 50-60 mph until midweek.
This weekend, the mountains around Cooke City received 7” of snow equaling 1.0” of snow water equivalent, the Southern Madison Range got 2” (0.2” SWE) and the rest of the forecast area remained dry. West to southwest winds gusting 50-65 mph drifted any available soft snow.
If you are traveling through the snow-covered mountains consider the following:
- Skiers have already triggered and been caught in avalanches this year (details from the Fairy Lake area).
- We have a layered snowpack that is capable of producing avalanches throughout the region. Skiers in Cooke City are finding a weak structure and getting unstable test scores. These instabilities will be exacerbated by new and wind drifted snow from the weekend (photo). A natural avalanche occurred on Saddle Peak on a wind-loaded slope below the ridgeline last Wednesday (photo). Skier found drifts of snow that failed and propagated in the Bridgers late last week (photo).
- New snow, especially in Cooke City, and strong winds across the advisory loaded the snowpack this weekend.
- If you are on a slope steeper than 30 degrees, you are in avalanche terrain. It is irrelevant if you are snowmobiling, snowboarding, skiing, climbing, hunting, or making snow angels. Carry rescue gear and utilize safe travel protocols.
- Our early season mindset is one of conservative, information gathering as we get to know our new snowpack. Help us help you by sending in observations here.
- Now is the perfect time to refresh your avalanche brain by signing up for a class. Find a list of all local classes on our education calendar.
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 (email@example.com), 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 for the season. Get some tips from Dave Zinn in this Pre-Season gear check video.
November 17, 6-8 pm, Avalanche Awareness and Beacons at Beall Park. More info on our education calendar.
November 18, 7-8 pm, Online Free 1 hr Avalanche Awareness in partnership with University of Montana Western School of Outreach. Link to Join Here.
Our popular Avalanche Fundamentals with Field Course returns this year with sessions in December and January. This program 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. Check it out: 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!
Read accident reports from previous early season accidents before you venture to the snowy hills. This accident report from October 2012 in the northern Bridger Range, and this report from the tragic fatality four years ago in early October are reminders of the potential consequences of even a small avalanche early in the season.