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GNFAC issues avalanche warning for Big Sky, Bozeman

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A natural avalanche in the Lionhead was spotted Wednesday by David Zinn while snowmobiling in the area. PHOTO COURTESY OF GNFAC


An avalanche warning was issued Friday morning for the Bridger mountains, and the northern Madison and Gallatin ranges by the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center.

The warning follows overnight snowfall totals of nearly 1 foot in those areas. The snowpack in those mountains have “well developed weak layers,” according to the Friday avalanche forecast, that are likely to fail under the weight of all the new snow.

“We’ve been telling you for the last month that conditions are going to get dangerous quickly when the weak layers get loaded—today is the day we’ve been warning you about,” wrote Ian Hoyer, GNFAC forecaster.

Given the condition of the snowpack and weight of the new-fallen snow, GNFAC recommends avoiding travel on or below slopes steeper than 30 degrees, as there is a high probability that both natural and human-triggered slides could occur.

Snow is expected to continue to fall throughout the day and night Friday. The GNFAC forecast states that there is a possibility for upwards of 18 inches of snow to fall in the mountains around Bozeman and Big Sky by Saturday morning.

Conditions south of Big Sky near West Yellowstone “are still quite dangerous,” despite the area not receiving enough snow to necessitate an avalanche warning, the forecast states. Hoyer wrote that weak layers in the snowpack around West Yellowstone avalanched earlier this week during a wind event, which suggests that the snowpack will be touchy with the added weight of a skier or rider.

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