Good morning. This is Alex Marienthal with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Forecast on Monday, April 4th at 7:00 a.m. This information is sponsored by Grizzly Outfitters and FUGOWIE Snowmobile Club. This forecast does not apply to operating ski areas.
This morning there is no new snow. Temperatures are high teens to low 30s F. Wind is southwest at 10-20 mph with gusts of 30-40 mph. Today, wind out of the west-southwest will increase to 20-30 mph with gusts of 40-50 mph, temperatures will reach mid to high 30s F under mostly cloudy skies, and snow is expected this afternoon and tonight. By tomorrow morning, 3-5” of snow could fall through most of the forecast area with 7-10” near Cooke City, and a couple more inches during the day tomorrow.
Large avalanches are unlikely today. The main avalanche hazard is slabs of wind-drifted snow that can break under the weight of a person and slide on steep slopes. These slabs will probably be small, but can be hazardous in high consequence terrain. Yesterday on Wilson Peak near Big Sky, two skiers triggered a small avalanche while they were ascending a slope. The slide caught one of the skiers who was pushed into a tree and injured (details and photos). The avalanche involved a slab of wind-drifted snow, 6-12” deep and 100 feet wide. Similar avalanches of recently wind-drifted snow were reported the last couple days by skiers in Beehive Basin (details), Cooke City (photo and details) and outside the advisory area in the Absaroka Range (details, details).
If you ride or ski in steep terrain today, watch for signs of wind-drifted snow such as cracking around your feet or skis, round “whales” of snow near ridgelines and below cornices, or hard slabs that may feel hollow. Stay off steep slopes where you suspect unstable drifts, especially where even a small slide could push you into trees, over a cliff, or knock you down a long steep slope.
Larger avalanches on deeper weak layers are unlikely, but not impossible (Flanders video). Before riding steep slopes, dig to double check that a poor or unstable snowpack structure does not exist. Stack the odds in your favor by only exposing one person at a time to avalanche terrain and always carrying proper rescue gear.
Today the avalanche danger is LOW. This afternoon and tonight, new snow and strong winds will cause danger to increase. Be prepared for changing conditions. If snowfall accumulates earlier than expected, fresh drifts will form and larger avalanches could become possible.
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.