Good morning. This is Alex Marienthal with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Forecast on Saturday, November 26th at 6:50 a.m. This information is sponsored by Grizzly Outfitters and Cooke City Super 8/Bearclaw Bob’s. This forecast does not apply to operating ski areas.
*Note: Bridger Bowl Ski Area is closed and there are no avalanche control or ski patrol services. Backcountry conditions exist. Please don’t ski over hoses and power cords, stay off chairlifts, and give snowcats and snowmobiles plenty of room.
This morning there is no new snow, temperatures are 20s to low 30s F, and wind is westerly at 15-25 mph. Today, temperatures will drop to low 20s and teens F, and wind will be west-northwest at 10-15 mph with gusts to 25 mph. Heavy snowfall is possible with the arrival of cold air this morning. By mid-day, the mountains near Bozeman and Big Sky could receive 3-5” of snow with 2-3” near West Yellowstone and Cooke City.
Expected snowfall this morning heightens the avalanche danger. Human-triggered avalanches are possible, especially where westerly winds drift the new snow into thicker, dense slabs. Fresh drifts may be small with 2-5” of snow expected, but even small slides can push you off a cliff, into trees or into a confined gully where snow could pile deep enough to bury a person. On Thursday, a skier at Bridger was caught and carried more than a hundred feet in a slide of wind-drifted snow that was 15’ wide and 8” deep (photo and details). Another group saw a small avalanche that was likely human-triggered (details and photos). Neither person was buried or injured.
On many slopes, yesterday’s above freezing temperatures melted the snow surface which will refreeze as a crust and allow today’s fresh drifts to slide more easily. Skiers near Cooke City reported surface hoar that formed yesterday and may become a weak layer if preserved under today’s snow (photo). Avalanches could also break below snow that fell earlier this week (8-11” near Cooke City, Big Sky and Bozeman, 3-5” near West Yellowstone)(observation from Lionhead), and on high northerly slopes we have seen a few avalanches break on weak layers near the bottom of the snowpack (Hyalite Peak avalanche, natural avalanche on deeper weak layers at Big Sky).
Before crossing or riding steep slopes, consider the consequences of being caught in any size avalanche, look for and avoid unstable fresh drifts, and dig down a couple feet to assess older weak layers. Today, new snow makes human-triggered avalanches possible and the avalanche danger is MODERATE.
Human-triggered avalanches are possible, especially where westerly winds drift the new snow into thicker, dense slabs. Fresh drifts may be small with 2-5” of snow expected, but even small slides can push you off a cliff, into trees or into a confined gully where snow could pile deep enough to bury a person. Before crossing or riding steep slopes, consider the consequences of being caught in any size avalanche, look for and avoid unstable fresh drifts, and dig down a couple feet to assess older weak layers.
Upcoming Avalanche Education and Events
Our education calendar is full of awareness lectures and field courses. Check it out: Events and Education Calendar.
Tuesday, November 29, 6 p.m. Sidecountry Avalanche Awareness for Families (and Friends) at Story Mill Park. Free.
Tuesday, December 6, 9 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. West Yellowstone Avalanche Fundamentals w/ Snowmobile Field Session. Pre-register HERE.
Tuesday, December 13, 6 p.m. Avalanche Awareness + Beacons at Story Mill Park. Free.
The Friends of the Avalanche Center are hosting the Powder Blast Fundraiser. Your donations support free and low-cost avalanche education, beacon checkers at trailheads, beacon parks, weather stations, and GNFAC programs! 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.