Regional Conditions for Northern Madison

as of 5:00 am
Today2″ | 5-10 NE
Apr 1 13″ | 15-40 W
Mar 31 4″ | 30-60 SSW
9400′     4/02 at 10:00
6 ℉
NW - 5 mph, Gusts 11
0 " New
8880′   04/02 at 9:00
10℉
71″ 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

Moderate
Wed Apr 1

Considerable
Today

Moderate

Avalanche Activity- Northern Madison

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- Northern Madison

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

  • The red dashed lines mark the sides of the shallow avalanche that broke on surface hoar. It was triggered by a snowmobiler on 29 March in First Yellowmule (N aspect; 9500'). Photo: GNFAC

  • We dug this pit adjacent to a snowmobiler triggered avalanche. It broke on the surface hoar layer which is located at the top blue crystal card. The bottom card denotes the larger grains of facets that formed early in the winter. Photo: GNFAC

  • 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

  • There were many tracks in Buck Ridge and only a few small slides in First Yellowmule. This picture is looking SW towards Sphinx Mountain. Feathery crystals of surface hoar are buried 1-1.5' under the surface and are a concern. This layer seems to be more prevalent in protected areas. 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

  • From obs (3/29/20): "This 44* slope failed 12” under the surface of the snow on a hard crust as we descended to help another stuck rider in a tree. Another layer exists 2” below the failed layer which persisted to follow me down the hill rupturing as fault lines as I continued rapidly down the hill after extracting the stuck rider. While the remaining slope only fractured without chasing me down the hill... "Photo: TJ Krob

  • 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: "Was up Dudley creek today. Northern madison. Saw 2 step down avalanches on ne aspect high elevation... One ... seemed cornice triggered within 12 hrs of our tour this morning (3/26). The 2nd avalanche is in the lower photo and was probably skier trigger intentional.... It looks like they triggered a fresh wind slab under ridge, maybe ski cut, which stepped down into some older layers"


    Photo: L. Frye

  • Two natural avalanche in Beehive Basin. The obvious avalanche was observed by skiers mid-day. There is another crown in the shadows of an avalanche that occurred earlier in the day.

    Photo: J. Caton

  • From obs: "An avalanche was triggered by a skier on the East facing wall of Beehive Basin. The slide broke on the crust layer from last week. The crown was roughly 100' wide."

    Photo: C. Samuels

  • In the Bridger Range, avalanches released naturally on a density change in the new snow sometime Tuesday night (3/24). Photo: E. Knoff

  • In the Bridger Range, avalanches released naturally on a density change in the new snow sometime Tuesday night (3/24). Photo: E. Knoff

  • 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

  • "Was out today and found buried surface hoar 10-15 cms down. Some previous natural activity on this layer on steeper north aspects with very shallow soft slabs, but mostly dry loose at this point. Not much slab formation since the last ppt event. This could be a problem when more snow and wind in the next few days." Photo: T. Woodward

  • 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

  • Natural avalanche north of Beehive peak, next to North Twin behind the Fourth of July couloir. Looks to have broken on weak layers near the ground. May have been concern triggered. Observed 3/19/2020. Exact timing of release is unknown. Estimated 3/16/2020.

    Photo: G. Dittmar

  • Natural avalanche north of Beehive peak, next to North Twin behind the Fourth of July couloir. Looks to have broken on weak layers near the ground. May have been concern triggered. Observed 3/19/2020. Exact timing of release is unknown. Estimated 3/16/2020.

    Photo: G. Dittmar

  • 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

  • Skier triggered wet, loose avalanche in Dudley Creek (R1/D1). Photo: Anonymous

  • Natural wet snow avalanche in Dudley Creek. Likely occurred on Monday, March 16th. Reported as a size R3/D3. Photo: Anonymous

  • Natural wet snow avalanche in Dudley Creek. Likely occurred on Monday March 16th. Reported as a size R3/D3. Photo: Anonymous

  • Spencer Jonas, GNFAC intern, in a snowpit in Beehive Basin. We found over 6 feet of snow and just dug our the top 4 feet to assess the stability. The new snow is bonding well and there were no signs of instability. Photo: GNFAC

  • Cornices have grown rapidly in the last few days. These will be susceptible to breaking and could trigger pillows of wind slabs under them. Photo: Bridger Bowl Ski Patrol

  • 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

  • The winds blew the new new into wind slabs that avalanched naturally yesterday. This photo was taken at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday (3/10) by Evan Schock.

  • Very small avalanches in the new snow at Buck Ridge, seen on the morning of 3/10/2020. These slides were <6" deep and around 10' wide.

    Photo: GNFAC

  • After a jump turn into a ski cut to one of those protected spots, my partner triggered a storm slab about 4” thick that propagated from the edge of our boot pack on one wall of the chute to the other wall about 20/30’ across and then ran the rest of the chute onto the apron about 300’ below us. No one was caught or injured. We skied out of the chute on the crust bed surface and spent the rest of the day enjoying some low angle trees. The chute was around 40° at 9,000’-9,500’ and west facing. Photo: C. Oshiro-Leavitt

  • After a jump turn into a ski cut to one of those protected spots, my partner triggered a storm slab about 4” thick that propagated from the edge of our boot pack on one wall of the chute to the other wall about 20/30’ across and then ran the rest of the chute onto the apron about 300’ below us. No one was caught or injured. We skied out of the chute on the crust bed surface and spent the rest of the day enjoying some low angle trees. The chute was around 40° at 9,000’-9,500’ and west facing. Photo: C. Oshiro-Leavitt

  • Dry loose avalanches on Blackmore. The snow stayed surprisingly cold and dry throughout the day. Photo: R Rustigian

  • A falling cornice triggered a large slide in the wet snow on an east facing slope up Hyalite. It was north of Mt. Blackmore and west of History Rock. Photo: R. Parsons

Videos- Northern Madison

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8800 Camera, Lone Peak view

Golf Course

Yellowstone Club, Timberline Chair

Weather Forecast Northern Madison

Extended Forecast for

5 Miles NNW Big Sky MT

  • Today

    Today: A 30 percent chance of snow, mainly between 11am and 4pm.  Partly sunny, with a high near 13. Wind chill values as low as -5. North wind 7 to 11 mph becoming west northwest in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 18 mph.  Total daytime snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

    Chance Snow

    High: 13 °F

  • Tonight

    Tonight: A 20 percent chance of snow before 7pm.  Partly cloudy, with a low around 5. Wind chill values as low as -10. West wind 7 to 11 mph becoming south southwest after midnight.

    Slight Chance
    Snow then
    Partly Cloudy

    Low: 5 °F

  • Friday

    Friday: A 40 percent chance of snow after noon.  Partly sunny, with a high near 20. Wind chill values as low as -10. Southwest wind 11 to 21 mph, with gusts as high as 29 mph.  New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

    Mostly Sunny
    then Chance
    Snow

    High: 20 °F

  • Friday
    Night

    Friday Night: A 30 percent chance of snow.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 11. Wind chill values as low as -5. South southwest wind 18 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph.  New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

    Chance Snow

    Low: 11 °F

  • Saturday

    Saturday: A 40 percent chance of snow.  Partly sunny, with a high near 25. Southwest wind 15 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph.  Little or no snow accumulation expected.

    Chance Snow

    High: 25 °F

  • Saturday
    Night

    Saturday Night: A 20 percent chance of snow after midnight.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 16. South wind 10 to 13 mph, with gusts as high as 18 mph.

    Mostly Cloudy
    then Slight
    Chance Snow

    Low: 16 °F

  • Sunday

    Sunday: Snow likely, mainly before noon.  Cloudy, with a high near 28. South wind 11 to 14 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of around an inch possible.

    Snow Likely

    High: 28 °F

  • Sunday
    Night

    Sunday Night: A chance of snow after midnight.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 19. South wind 11 to 13 mph, with gusts as high as 18 mph.

    Mostly Cloudy
    then Chance
    Snow

    Low: 19 °F

  • Monday

    Monday: A chance of snow before noon, then snow showers likely after noon. Some thunder is also possible.  Mostly cloudy, with a high near 31.

    Snow Showers
    Likely

    High: 31 °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.