The snow that fell this week is changing avalanche conditions on the slopes.
Areas around Bozeman and the north part of the county saw lots of light “dry snow” which didn’t add a ton of weight to the snowpack and increase avalanche danger. However, the story is different to the south.
“Around West Yellowstone, it was actually pretty heavy and we received 2-3 inches of snow water equivalent,” said Avalanche Specialist Alex Marienthal. “A lot of weight was added snowpack and in particular down there it’s a weak unstable snowpack with some weak snow at the ground.”
Avalanche specialists have seen evidence of this.
“We were also down around West Yellowstone and saw a large avalanche that was triggered by snowmobilers the other day before, said Marienthal. “We’ve seen some small avalanches triggered around here, so people are still getting out and the avalanche danger is slightly elevated.”
Several days of below average temperatures are expected across southwest Montana. However, it’s something else that will dictate if the slopes here are safe or unsafe.
“The wind that’s associated with these cold fronts that come through will increase the hazard by drifting snow into thicker slabs and adding weight to weak layers,” Marienthal said. “The snow associated with any of this cold weather will increase the weight and instability of the snowpack.”