Regional Conditions for Northern Madison

as of 5:00 am
Today4″ | 20-45 WNW
Dec 8 3″ | 20-45 SW
Dec 7 0″ | 30-50 SW
9400′     12/09 at 9:00
8 ℉
W - 11 mph, Gusts 19
6 " New
8880′   12/09 at 9:00
15℉
26″ Depth
Bottom Line: Yesterday, moderate to strong westerly wind drifted 8-10” of new snow into thick slabs which overloaded an unstable snowpack. Today, dangerous avalanche conditions exist and large avalanches are easy to trigger. The poor snowpack structure makes it possible to trigger avalanches from low angle terrain below steep slopes. Avoid travel on and underneath steep slopes.
Avalanche Concern: Persistent Weak Layer

Past 5 Days

Thu Dec 5

Moderate
Fri Dec 6

Moderate
Sat Dec 7

Moderate
Sun Dec 8

Considerable
Today

Considerable

Avalanche Activity- Northern Madison

Northern Madison
Buck Ridge
Many natural avalanches on Buck Ridge
Incident details include images
Buck Ridge
SS-N-R1-D1.5-O
Elevation: 9,000
Aspect: N
Coordinates: 45.1719, -111.3800
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

Riders reported multiple natural slab avalanches on N facing slopes.


More Avalanche Details
Northern Gallatin
Hyalite - main fork
Natural and human triggered wind slab avalanches in Hyalite
Incident details include images
Hyalite - main fork
SS
Coordinates: 45.4472, -110.9620
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

Observations from Hyalite today:

1. When approaching the base of Mt. Blackmore this morning at roughly 8:45am we observed strong swirling winds at higher elevations (summit of Blackmore and the Elephant/Blackmore Saddle). The winds we observed were primarily loading snow onto E and SE facing aspects. Furthermore, we witnessed four naturally triggered avalanches over a twenty minute span. All slides appeared to be D1/D2 on E and SE aspects and, seemingly, restricted to the newly loaded snow.

2. My partner and I climbed Zach Attack today. We intentionally triggered numerous size 1 wind slabs in the gully approaching the climb, which has slopes up to 35 degrees. These slabs were between 5 and 15 cm thick, up to 5m wide, 4F in hardness, touchy, and failed on lower density new snow. Although none of them ran more than 20m in this terrain, it would be a different story on steeper slopes, and if you were in an exposed position they had enough mass to push you around. Strong down and cross-slope winds formed these slabs at and below treeline, while the more alpine terrain of the climb itself was scoured.

3. Skied up in the main drainage of Hyalite today. Triggered some small wind slabs and propagating cracks. We backed off our main objective (a north facing couloir) because of these red flags and multiple crown lines on the same aspect and elevation.

 

More Avalanche Details
Bridger Range
Saddle Peak
Natural and human triggered wind slabs in the Bridger Range
Incident details include images
Saddle Peak
SS-N-D2
Aspect: E
Coordinates: 45.7943, -110.9360
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0
From an email:
"I toured up Bridger today... We found reactive windslabs at the ridgeline. On the drive up we observed a few small avalanches in Mundies Bowl and a larger (D2) slide just north of Saddle’s north summit. All appeared to be windslabs that released at the ridgeline. We dug a pit a few hundred feet below the ridge above the entrance to 2 Way and Stuper. I’ve attached a photo of this, as well as of windslabs at the ridgeline and one of the flank of the slide on Saddle"

More Avalanche Details

Photos- Northern Madison

Displaying 1 - 40
  • Riders reported multiple natural slab avalanches on N facing slopes. Photo: R. Rustigian

  • Riders reported multiple natural slab avalanches on N facing slopes. Note widespread crowns along slope in background. Photo: R. Rustigian

  • From obs.: "Dug a pit just over the ridge from Beehive Basin into Middle Basin on a part of the slope that was less wind-affected than the rest. Performed an ECT and got a result of ECTP-24. The failure occurred on what appeared to be the same layer that was observed at Buck Ridge earlier this week - a thin layer of facets underneath a fairly solid crust (found approximately 30 cm from the surface). Given this observation, we decided to take it easy and ski some low angle meadows down into bear basin." Photo: E. Telford

  • We sledded into Buck Ridge (12/4/2019) for the first time this season. The riding was supportable and soft, but we sank to the ground when we stepped off our sleds. This poor snowpack structure makes avalanches possible to trigger, and will create bad avalanche conditions when more snow loads on top. Enjoy the powder in low angle terrain. Photo: GNFAC

  • The Bridger Bowl Ski Patrol triggered this slide on a heavily wind-loaded east facing slope at the ridgeline. They wrote, "With a shovel push the vertical cornice/pillow broke 15''-36'' deep on a steep and rounded bulge just south of Lee's Leap running on the crust. The debris terminated well below Pat's Chute." Its code is HS-AC-R2-D2-O-TR. Photo: BBSP
  • This large avalanche was triggered intentionally by the Bridger Bowl Ski Patrol at the ridgeline above little Slushman's Ravine. They were cutting a cornice and it broke 7 feet back from the edge, 4 feet deep and 150 feet wide. It was a hard slab avalanche and ran 1150 feet. It was east facing and broke on a crust formed in the early season. It's code is HS-AC-R2-D3-O-TL. Photo: BBSP

  • We put up the Taylor Fork weather station today (12/03) and it is churning out hourly data. Check it out here: https://www.mtavalanche.com/weather/stations/taylor-fork

  • We partnered with the Gallatin Valley Snowmobile Association to put in two new beacon checkers at the Taylor Fork and Buck Ridge trailheads. They are working great!

    Thanks GVSA! Photo: GNFAC

  • We recognize that backcountry skiing can be daunting to approach. That’s why Ben Goertzen and the Friends of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center have teamed up to help breakdown some of the most prominent barriers of entry to backcountry skiing through this campaign. One lucky winner will be given a complete backcountry skiing kit, a spot in an avalanche awareness course, and featured in a three part video series that ends with an excursion into the backcountry with professional skier and filmmaker, Ben Goertzen . These videos will be used by the Friends of GNFAC to help other aspiring backcountry skiers gain awareness, knowledge and start to breakdown their barriers to entry.

    Click Here for More Details on How to Enter

    Watch the Backcountry Barriers Launch Video: https://vimeo.com/376473804

  • This avalanche of wind-drifted snow was triggered with a ski cut on a southeast aspect at 9,800'. Photo: T. Chingas

  • This slide was triggered up Hyalite from 100' away. It was a wind loaded slope at 9,000', northeast aspect. Photo: T. Chingas

  • From an observation:

    When approaching the base of Mt. Blackmore this morning at roughly 8:45 am we observed strong swirling winds at higher elevations (summit of Blackmore and the Elephant/Blackmore Saddle). The winds we observed were primarily loading snow onto E and SE facing aspects. Furthermore, we witnessed four naturally triggered avalanches over a twenty minute span. All slides appeared to be D1/D2 on E and SE aspects and, seemingly, restricted to the newly loaded snow. Photo: SAM

  • This natural avalanche released on Saddle Peak. wind loading from west winds created sensitive wind slabs this morning. Photo: S. Jonas

  • Skiers found reactive wind slabs near the ridge line that easily avalanched. Photo: S. Jonas

  • From obs.: "New snow from 24 hours ago blew around the ridge tops from 11pm last night until 7am this morning ~30mph. This soft 4 finger slab was about 6”-7” deep and broke on a convex roll.... We were assessing the terrain carefully and expected this result." Photo: R. Christian-Frederick

  • We triggered this dry loose avalanche on a west facing slope in Beehive Basin on 11/30. 3-5" of recent snow easily slid on top of a crust. Photo: GNFAC

  • Dry loose snow avalanches were easy to trigger on Saturday 11/30 in Beehive Basin. Photo: GNFAC

  • These small crowns indicate that new snow may not bond well to the old snow surface. Photo: B. Fredlund

  • Strong winds found snow to transport on Saturday 11/23. Photo: B. VandenBos

  • Large surface hoar in Hyalite on 11/23. Photo: C. Kussmaul

  • Shooting cracks in Hyalite at ~9500 ft on a N aspect on 11/23. 

    From obs "We got some large shooting cracks while skinning and ended up turning around." Photo: C. Kussmaul

  • From obs: "We took a tour up into the Maid today. A generally stable snowpack in the area, new snow seemed to bond well with the underneath crust layer. We did observe small pinwheels/rollers on steep pitches on southeast aspects, mostly due to the rocks heating up during the day. We also observed sluff buildup on aprons below the shadier and steep northern aspects." Photo: Tommy S.

  • Toured up to the ridge at Bridger today and traversed into Bridger Gully. At around 8,000' in the trees above the most prominent snowfield, my partner and I observed very small dry sluffs confined to the new snow.  Bellow Bridger Gully, my partner was able to release a slide while traversing through rocks above his intended line. This was on an east-southeast aspect at 7,500'. Photo: Cole Oshiro-Leavitt

  • On Thursday 11/21 skiers at Bridger noted: "...some activity (D1-D2) isolated to the new snow around rock features and ridgetops that were wind-affected..." Photo: G. Antonioli

  • On Thursday 11/21 skiers at Bridger noted: "...some activity (D1-D2) isolated to the new snow around rock features and ridgetops that were wind-affected..." Photo: G. Antonioli

  • From obs.: "I went skiing at Bridger today,... There was 4-5” of new snow, which was sitting on a firm surface. The wind had done some work, and I was able to break off a few shallow (6”) wind slabs in the first 100 feet or so off the ridge." Photo: A. Schauer

  • A skier on Saturday (11/16) took the time to dig a quick pit about 200' below east ridge of Mt Blackmore. He found about 2.5 feet of snow with a few crust layers. Photo: K. Stewart

  • This wet loose avalanche was on a west-southwest aspect in Beehive Basin. It broke to the ground (only 30 cm deep) but shows how a few hours of sun with above freezing temperatures can create wet slides, even in November! Photo: McKinley Talty

  • These feathery surface hoar crystals were buried under 5" of snow last night up Hyalite. These weak grains may become a problem with additional load. Phoro: B. VandenBos

  • "Lots of cracking up there this morning on fresh, mid elevation wind slabs"

    Photo: B. Nobel

  • "While skinning up to the top of Powder Park lift at Bridger, we had roughly 15' cracks propagate on an E/SE aspect. A snowpit showed roughly 8" of wind slab above a few inches of facets, on top of last week's rain crust." November 11, 2019.

    Photo: G. Lawrence

  • From obs.: "A widespread rain crust left the whole [Beehive] basin glazed like a Krispy Kreme donut to ~1000'. The consistently breakable crust thinned with elevation yet ensured lack-luster skiing conditions throughout the entire basin. Light winds [and] increasing cloud cover... worked together to keep solar input at bay and minimized the break-down or softening of the surface crust. Noted 2 small (D.5 - R1) old natural WL avalanches on due south aspects at ~10,100' probably triggered from cliff bands during the warm up last week...." Photo: Zachary Miller

  • On November 8th, skiers found weak facets and surface hoar had formed during prior cold and dry weather. Keep an eye out for these weak layers if they get buried. Photo: B. VandenBos

  • On November 8th, skiers found weak facets and surface hoar had formed during prior cold and dry weather. Keep an eye out for these weak layers if they get buried. Photo: B. VandenBos

  • Wet loose avalanches at Bridger Bowl (observed on 11/5).

    Photo: G. Antonioli

  • Wet loose avalanches at Bridger Bowl (observed on 11/5).

    Photo: G. Antonioli

  • In the upper basin and dropping into the South Fork of Spanish Creek. Cold temps had done a great job rearranging the snowpack for the worse, older snow was moderately faceted, lots of sub-angular to angular grains to be found. On upper elevation shaded slopes, where more snow from earlier in the year was preserved, the snow near the ground has been metamorphosed to depth hoar, with cupped, striated grains >5mm. Photo: B. VandenBos

  • On 11/2, skiers found fresh drifts that easily cracked, and avalanched on steeper slopes. Photo: T. Chingas

  • NE aspect 10,000'. Triggered while skiing through a choke point. This one was thin but ran down slope quite a ways because the terrain was steeper. Photo: T. Chingas

  • E aspect, 9,100'. Triggered from a stomping a small cornice, which landed on a steep slope below and popped a small wind slab. Photo: T. Chingas

WebCams


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: Patchy blowing snow after 1pm. Mostly sunny, with a high near 18. Wind chill values as low as -10. Northwest wind 17 to 20 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon.

    Mostly Sunny
    then Patchy
    Blowing Snow

    High: 18 °F

  • Tonight

    Tonight: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 11. Wind chill values as low as -7. Southwest wind around 18 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph.

    Mostly Cloudy

    Low: 11 °F

  • Tuesday

    Tuesday: Patchy blowing snow after 11am. Mostly sunny, with a high near 20. Wind chill values as low as -6. Breezy, with a southwest wind 18 to 22 mph.

    Patchy
    Blowing Snow
    and Breezy

    High: 20 °F

  • Tuesday
    Night

    Tuesday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 13. Wind chill values as low as -4. South wind 18 to 21 mph.

    Mostly Cloudy

    Low: 13 °F

  • Wednesday

    Wednesday: A 20 percent chance of snow.  Mostly cloudy, with a high near 21. Breezy, with a south wind 18 to 23 mph.

    Slight Chance
    Snow and
    Breezy

    High: 21 °F

  • Wednesday
    Night

    Wednesday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 13. Breezy.

    Partly Cloudy
    then Mostly
    Cloudy and
    Breezy

    Low: 13 °F

  • Thursday

    Thursday: A 40 percent chance of snow.  Cloudy, with a high near 22. Windy.  New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

    Chance Snow
    and Windy

    High: 22 °F

  • Thursday
    Night

    Thursday Night: A chance of snow.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 17. Breezy.

    Chance Snow
    and Breezy

    Low: 17 °F

  • Friday

    Friday: A chance of snow.  Mostly cloudy, with a high near 21. Breezy.

    Chance Snow
    and Breezy

    High: 21 °F

The Last Word

Sadly, yesterday in Colorado a skier was buried and killed in an avalanche. This is the first avalanche fatality this season in the U.S. CAIC preliminary report.