Regional Conditions for Cooke City Area

as of 5:00 am
Today2″ | 5-15 E
Apr 1 10″ | 15-65 W
Mar 31 6″ | 15-50 SW
10,000′     04/02 at 07:00
2.8℉
S - 3mph
Gusts 7mph
9100′   04/02 at 8:00
14℉
107″ Depth
Bottom Line: A large storm ended yesterday morning which dropped 14-20” of new snow. This created instability throughout our forecast area. Yesterday, avalanches released naturally and a few were human triggered. All this activity occurred in the upper 2-3 feet of the snowpack on a weak interface of either an ice crust, feathery surface hoar, or small-grained facets. It really doesn’t matter which since they are all a similar depth and unstable. There is still a strong possibility of triggering slides, most notably on wind-loaded slopes or steep terrain that has not sluffed. Cracking, collapsing and recent avalanche activity are bulls-eye information to avoid a slope.

Past 5 Days

Sun Mar 29

Moderate
Mon Mar 30

Moderate
Tue Mar 31

Considerable
Wed Apr 1

Considerable
Today

Moderate

Avalanche Activity- Cooke City Area

Northern Gallatin
Mt Ellis
Skier triggered small sluffs on Little Ellis
Incident details include images
Mt Ellis
L-ASc-R0-D1
Elevation: 7,450
Aspect: NE
Coordinates: 45.5777, -110.9550
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

Winds only 5mph out of the west, temps in the 20’s, 8-10” new snow overnight. Dry-loose intentionally triggered D-1’s from ridge-top on 45 degree NE-facing slopes at 7450’. Otherwise, no obvious signs of instability, skied down through N Ridge glades.


More Avalanche Details
Southern Madison
Quake Lake
Collapsing and natural avalanches at Quake Lake
Incident details include images
Quake Lake
SS-N-I
Elevation: 9,600
Coordinates: 44.8524, -111.3920
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

"I skied near Quake Lake today, and observed several signs that the snowpack has not adjusted to this last storm yet. While ascending, several drifts collapsed under my weight, and I observed a very recent natural slide on a wind-loaded, east facing slope at about 9200'. I saw another, larger natural slide on a wind-loaded N/NW slope at 9600' that looked to have run on the new/old interface sometime late yesterday. I dug a pit on a south aspect at 9900', and found a thin layer of graupel on top of a crust 35cm down. This failed at ECTP3, which was a little hair-raising. The rest of the pack on that aspect seemed to be fairly well consolidated..."


More Avalanche Details
Lionhead Range
Hebgen Lake
Multiple signs of instability above Hebgen Lake
Hebgen Lake
Aspect: E
Coordinates: 44.8381, -111.3430
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

Today at Hebgen we were all excited obviously about the new snow.  Having heard about and seen the surface hoar that formed several weeks ago, this was definitely on my mind, but figured like usual we would mitigate our risk and stay on mellower terrain to avoid causing or being caught in a slide. As we got higher and broke out into 1 of the higher meadows we got a good woomph that stopped the three of us in our tracks. We skinned a little further and then dug a pit confirming what we were already concerned about, ectp 18. We rode from the ridge and then cut back to the skintrack along the ridge (commonly where most folks skin up) and kept out of the steeper slide paths.

4 red flags I observed, not to mention the Considerable danger rating given in the morning for S. Madison.  1) the big woomph 2) poor test results 3) riding in or near terrain traps.


More Avalanche Details

Photos- Cooke City Area

Displaying 1 - 40
  • This tree near the north ridge shows no signs of wind during the storm. Photo: PC

  • "I skied near Quake Lake today, and observed several signs that the snowpack has not adjusted to this last storm yet. While ascending, several drifts collapsed under my weight, and I observed a very recent natural slide on a wind-loaded, east facing slope at about 9200'." Photo: Sam Reinsel

  • Cornices on the back side of Sheep mtn are getting huge. Guessing well over 25ft. They are right above a play area to the west of Ovis lake, and round Round lake. Photo: R. DeSilva

  • This surface hoar crystal is almost 1.5 cm (each square is 2mm) and was the weak layer in a few avalanches on Buck Ridge (3/29/20). Photo: GNFAC

  • We saw this natural avalanche from afar. It was NE aspect and likely failed on a layer of surface hoar 1-1.5' deep. The Madison Valley is in the background. Photo: GNFAC

  • Sunday (3/29/20) skiers near Fairy Lake saw this cornice collapse that ran for quite a ways in October bowl. Photo: T. Gittins

  • From obs. (3/29/20): "Significant wind started building mid morning, forming even bigger cornices and wind loading many slopes. Noticed this slide on an East/Northeast aspect at the back of the bowl above Maid of the Mist creek, possibly triggered by cornice fall but unknown. Happened between 9:45am and 11:30am today, as at 9:30am it was not there, and when we returned to the spot around 11:30am the slide was visible." Photo: CP

  • From email on 3/27/2020 : "natural slab avalanche I observed today near Cooke City.  An easterly aspect around 9,400'.  I'd estimate the crown to be 2-3' deep and about 100' wide.  Looks like it was triggered by a cornice fall (2-3 days ago?)."

    Photo: B. Fredlund

  • From obs: "Wind Loaded slope. 2ft Crown. 100ft wide. firm, crusty bed surface. The avalanche was released by a ski cut." Photo: Anonymous

  • Snowfall throughout the afternoon fluctuated between S1 - S5 (during brief squalls). The winds started out moderate and from the west but calmed by the last lap ~5 pm. The new snow (from last night/this morning) was fairly well bonded to the sun/melt-freeze crust below, but the storm came in subtly upside down. Today’s snowfall (accumulating ~3” while skiing between 1-530) was light. Right along the ridgeline, we triggered 4 predictable small storm slabs 4~6” deep on the upside-down storm snow from last night/this morning, but surprisingly not on the old crust. They were each 5-10m wide x 5m long and only ran ~5m vertically. Photo: Z Miller

  • This is a photo of a small roof avalanche near Island Park. Warming temperatures cause water to percolate through the snow which lubricates the sliding surface. Roof avalanches have injured and killed people in the past, just one more thing to worry about. Photo: M.E. 

  • Dave Zinn digs a hand pit along the ridge to assess how the new snow is sticking to the ice crust. Photo: GNFAC

  • Obs: "School bus size cornices over Easterly portions of Lionhead Ridge. It is hard to tell from the photo, but the largest cornices were about 20-25' tall. We dug a few pits on East Facing slopes between 9,000-9,500 ft with the worst result being an ECTN-21 however these Cornices are primed and ready to fall with the abundant sunshine and warming weather." Photo: JR

  • From e-mail: "Natural wet slides... caused us to back off our plan of heading that way and ski a north, shady aspect instead. On a southern aspect. 9000ft. 1:30pm. We dug a hasty pit and observed a weak layer about 1m down. The facets were beginning to round." Photo: K. Master

  • From IG post with #gnfacobs: "I triggered a small windslab, mid slope on the north face of Wilson. It was a a pretty stubborn slab that broke above me. Cross loaded from lookers right. 6-8” deep." Photo: B Gill

  • From IG post with #gnfacobs: "I triggered a small windslab, mid slope on the north face of Wilson. It was a a pretty stubborn slab that broke above me. Cross loaded from lookers right. 6-8” deep." Photo: B Gill

  • From south of Big Sky yesterday 3/17 about 9:00, just north of Buck Ridge at 8500'. Large surface hoar on northerly aspects. Photo: Spence

  • We dug near the top of Bacon Rind and found 155cm of snow. Our primary concern is with the upper snowpack. As it warms and wets we can expect an increase of avalanche activity on the ice crusts. Facets are still dry and soft at the bottom of the pack and I got this layer to break with an ECTP29. Photo: GNFAC

  • Small slab avalanche in the upper Republic Valley, a northeast aspect around 10,000'. Photo: B Fredlund

  • Snowmobile triggered avalanche near Lulu Pass. Photo: Anonymous 

  • Snowmobile triggered avalanche near Lulu Pass. Photo: Anonymous 

  • From e-mail on 3/15/20: "At around 1230pm today, everything that was steeper than 35 degrees in star Creek simultaneously slid on east, north, south aspects. Soft slab 6-12" in thickness. Prior to that, it had been snowing S5 for three hours." Photo: B. Zavora

  • Cornices are growing to immense sizes in Cooke City. Try to minimize your time underneath these monsters and stay far away from the edge if you are on ridge tops. Photo: GNFAC

  • Mike Thom, Gardiner District Ranger, stands in a 7-foot deep snowpit at 9900' on Woody Ridge to the south of Cooke City. We found wind-loading to be our primary concern. Facets were still present at the base of the snowpack, but they are stable for now. Photo: GNFAC

  • Strong wind stripped snow off many slopes above treeline. Photo: GNFAC

  • This naturally triggered avalanche likely happened Tuesday morning. Strong wind loaded slopes and made huge cornices. Photo: GNFAC

  • From e-mail: "...some wet loose avy activity observed today just west of Cooke City (south aspect, around 8200').  Overall though, minimal wet avalanche activity observed with this significant warm up..." Photo: B. Fredlund

  • Point releases across highway from Bacon Rind. 3/6/2020.

    Photo: GNFAC

  • Point releases across the highway from Bacon Rind. 3/6/2020

    Photo: GNFAC

  • Wet slide in Buffalo Horn Creek. 3/6/2020.

    Photo: A. Norlander

  • Overview of an avalanche triggered on 2/27/2020 at 8:30 p.m. by a groomer between Storm Castle and Swan Creeks in the northern Gallatin Range. The driver was ok, but the machine did a full barrel roll and was very badly damaged. Photo: GNFAC

  • An avalanche triggered on 2/27/2020 at 8:30 p.m. by a groomer between Storm Castle and Swan Creeks in the northern Gallatin Range. The driver was ok, but the machine did a full barrel roll and was very badly damaged. The debris piled 8' deep on the road, which creates a terrain trap. Photo: GNFAC

  • An avalanche was triggered on 2/27/2020 at 8:30 p.m. by a groomer between Storm Castle and Swan Creeks in the northern Gallatin Range. The driver was ok, but the machine did a full barrel roll and was very badly damaged. Photo: GNFAC

  • From obs form: "While approaching Black Mountain from Pine Creek Lake.... We skied South aspect and as it warmed we triggered D1 R1 slabs that ran slow and short." Photo: T. Hoefler

  • From email: "Photo attached of a natural avalanche from yesterday, just south of Cooke City.  It's on an E, NE aspect, with a crown around 9,300'.  Looks like it occurred yesterday am, as a result of a cornice fall." B. Fredlund

  • Small natural wind slabs on Crown Butte. Broke overnight, observed morning of 2/25/2020.

    Photo: GNFAC

  • Snowmobile triggered wind slab near Goose Lake. Triggered morning of 2/25/2020. Broke 1-2' deep on a small slope.

    Photo: GNFAC

  • From obs: "Seemed stability was getting better, but did see this minor slide that pulled out on Scotch Bonnet Mountain. Evidently triggered by a snowmobile sometime mid-day Saturday (2/22)." Photo: R. Larson

  • "Avalanche debris we encountered while skinning up the access road. It piled roughly 15-20 feet onto the road." Photo: T. Papritz

  • "Very large and destructive deep slab just north of emigrant peak on a east-facing aspect. The debris likely ran over 1000 vertical feet and stopped towards the bottom right of the image. We think the smaller slide on the far right was triggered as a secondary slide as a result." Photo: T. Papritz

Videos- Cooke City Area

WebCams


Soda Butte Lodge, looking West

Soda Butte Lodge, looking East

Weather Forecast Cooke City Area

Extended Forecast for

2 Miles NNE Cooke City MT

Winter Storm Warning until April 2, 12:00pm
Click here for hazard details and duration
Winter Storm Warning
  •  
    Winter Storm Warning until April 2, 12:00pm

    NOW until
    12:00pm Thu

    Winter Storm Warning

  • Today

    Today: Snow likely before noon, then a chance of light snow, mainly between noon and 5pm.  Mostly cloudy, with a high near 18. Wind chill values as low as -5. Light and variable wind becoming north northwest 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon.  Chance of precipitation is 70%. Total daytime snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.

    Snow Likely

    High: 18 °F

  • Tonight

    Tonight: A 20 percent chance of light snow before 9pm.  Partly cloudy, with a low around -4. Wind chill values as low as -15. North wind around 6 mph becoming west after midnight.

    Slight Chance
    Light Snow
    then Mostly
    Cloudy

    Low: -4 °F

  • Friday

    Friday: A 40 percent chance of snow after noon.  Partly sunny, with a high near 23. Wind chill values as low as -10. Southwest wind 6 to 9 mph.  New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

    Partly Sunny
    then Chance
    Snow

    High: 23 °F

  • Friday
    Night

    Friday Night: A 40 percent chance of snow.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 11. Wind chill values as low as -5. Southwest wind 9 to 13 mph.  New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.

    Chance Snow

    Low: 11 °F

  • Saturday

    Saturday: A 40 percent chance of snow.  Mostly cloudy, with a high near 29. West southwest wind around 10 mph.  New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

    Chance Snow

    High: 29 °F

  • Saturday
    Night

    Saturday Night: A 20 percent chance of snow after midnight.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 15.

    Mostly Cloudy
    then Slight
    Chance Snow

    Low: 15 °F

  • Sunday

    Sunday: Snow likely before noon, then scattered snow showers after noon.  Mostly cloudy, with a high near 34. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of around an inch possible.

    Snow Likely

    High: 34 °F

  • Sunday
    Night

    Sunday Night: A 20 percent chance of snow after midnight.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 19.

    Mostly Cloudy
    then Slight
    Chance Snow

    Low: 19 °F

The Last Word

A backcountry skier was caught and injured in an avalanche in Colorado on Tuesday, 3/31. Details are here. This incident is on the heels of another avalanche on 3/24 that caught, partially buried and injured a snowboarder (details here). Backcountry rescues are risky in the best of times. With COVID-19 running amok, rescuers are also at risk to exposing each other to the virus. Be smart, be safe and think of others.