This is Dave Zinn with pre-season avalanche, weather and event information for the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center on Thursday, November 3rd. This information is sponsored by The Friends of the Avalanche Center. Join them in supporting free and low-cost avalanche education, community outreach and avalanche center operations during the 2022 Virtual Powder Blast.
Winter returned yesterday after a mild week. The mountains near Big Sky and Bozeman received 4-7” of snow with 1-3” near West Yellowstone and Cooke City. Winds are 5-15 mph from the west to northwest and temperatures are in the teens F. Lingering snow showers will exit the area this morning and winds be 5-10 mph from the north to the west with temperatures in the teens to 20s F. Another storm arrives on Friday with a snowy and cool week projected.
For current weather data, check our weather stations in Cooke City, Hyalite, Lionhead and on Sawtelle Peak near Island Park, ID. Also, utilize the ski area weather stations from the Yellowstone Club, Big Sky and Bridger Bowl, and SNOTEL sites throughout our advisory area. We will also update the Weather and Avalanche Log daily throughout the fall.
In the last 24 hours, the mountains received 4-7” of snow near Big Sky and Bozeman and 1-3” near West Yellowstone and Cooke City. Today, avoid small loose snow avalanches in all steep terrain and avalanches breaking wider as slabs where the wind loaded slopes with drifted snow before calming this morning. Even a small avalanche will drag a skier or rider through the rocks and result in trauma with our thin, early-season coverage.
As this and subsequent storms load the foundation of the snowpack, assess how the layers of snow develop and interact by watching your surroundings for signs of obvious instability and digging snowpits to test for less obvious instability. A snowy week begins on Friday and the avalanche danger will rise as new snow adds up.
If you get out, please share avalanche, snowpack and weather observations on our website. If you choose to make them public, they will populate our NEW OBSERVATIONS PAGE. Check out the snowpack and avalanche observations we received after the last storm, including a large natural avalanche in the Headwaters area of Big Sky Resort (avalanche details).
Regardless of whether you are hunting or seeking early-season powder, employ principles of safe travel when in steep snow-covered terrain by having a partner, avoiding steep terrain when signs of instability are present, exposing a maximum of one person at a time to slopes steeper than 30 degrees, and carrying rescue gear that you’ve practiced using (avalanche beacon, shovel, and probe). Early-season avalanches in southwest Montana have injured, buried and killed skiers, riders and hunters (2012 Report, 2015 Report, 2017 Report).
Beyond utilizing safe travel protocols, assess the condition of your gear, practice rescue techniques and take an avalanche class to further your skills (education calendar).
Your observations are more important than ever this time of year as we get to know this season’s snowpack. If you get out, please share avalanche, snowpack or weather observations via our website, email (email@example.com), phone (406-587-6984), or Instagram (#gnfacobs). We’ll update the Weather and Avalanche Log daily and issue pre-season bulletins as needed throughout the fall as conditions warrant.
The Centennial Mountains outside of Island Park received 5” of new snow. Assess how the layers of snow develop and interact by watching your surroundings for signs of obvious instability and digging snowpits to test for less obvious instability. Today, avoid small loose snow avalanches in all steep terrain and avalanches breaking wider as slabs where the wind loaded slopes with drifted snow before calming this morning.
Upcoming Avalanche Education and Events
Our education calendar is full of awareness lectures and field courses. Check it out: Events and Education Calendar.
The Utah Avalanche Center Snow and Avalanche Workshop is a great opportunity available online from 6-9 PM on November 2 and 9.
We are offering an Avalanche Fundamentals with Field Session course for skiers in December and January, and snowmobilers in early January. Sign up early before they fill up.
Friends of GNFAC Powder Blast Fundraiser
The Friends of the Avalanche Center are hosting the Virtual 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.
If you’re headed out hunting in the coming days, read this article Alex wrote on avalanche avoidance for hunters. If you’re thinking about skiing or riding, this accident report from October 2012 in the northern Bridger Range contains good lessons for how things can go wrong when searching for early-season turns.