GNFAC Avalanche Forecast for Tue Jan 31, 2023

Not the Current Forecast

Good morning. This is Dave Zinn with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Forecast on Tuesday, January 31st at 7:00 a.m. Today’s forecast is sponsored by Uphill Pursuits and onX. This forecast does not apply to operating ski areas.

Mountain Weather

This morning, temperatures range from the minus teens F in Cooke City and West Yellowstone to a balmy 0 F in the Bridger Range. Winds are 15-25 mph from the west to southwest, and there is no new snow. High temperatures today will be in the positive single digits F in the southern advisory area to the teens F in the north. Winds will blow 15-25 mph from the west to southwest and there will be a trace to 1” of new snow by morning.

Snowpack and Avalanche Discussion

All Regions

West to northwest winds averaging 15-25 mph continue to drift recent snow into thick slabs that are likely to avalanche under the weight of a skier or rider today. Avoid slopes with active wind-loading or signs of recent wind-loading, such as drifts, a stiffening of the snow surface or a hollow, drum-like feel. Avalanches can break within the drifted snow or wider on buried weak layers in the upper three feet of the snowpack or near the ground. Any of these would be dangerous for backcountry travelers.

On non-wind-loaded slopes, the probability of triggering a slide is decreasing without new loading. Riding in Cooke City for the last two days, we described this as a dangerous probability game that led us to avoid slopes steeper than 30 degrees and lower-angle terrain immediately below (video). While obvious signs of instability are less forthcoming than they were during the storm, weak layers buried in the upper three feet of the snowpack continue to demonstrate the potential to fail and propagate (the ingredients for an avalanche). Last week’s snowstorm increased the potential for failures near the ground. Our advice from Cooke City applies to any slope across the advisory area with buried weak layers. Steer clear of avalanche terrain or test your luck. If you choose the latter, be on the slope one at a time and carry rescue gear, understanding that rescue gear will not help the 25% of avalanche victims who die from trauma.

Our recent videos and observations from the Taylor Fork, Buck Ridge, Mt. Ellis, Lionhead, Cooke City and the Bridger Range (video 1, 2) document weak snow before last week’s storm and avalanches after. Browse our weather and avalanche log to see the extensive list of recent avalanche activity.

Today, avoid slopes with active or recent wind-loading. Approach any non-wind-loaded slope with skepticism due to buried weak layers. Dig down and carefully assess for instability, carry rescue gear and travel one at a time in avalanche terrain. The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE on wind-loaded slopes and MODERATE on all others.

Please share avalanche, snowpack or weather observations via our website, email (, phone (406-587-6984), or Instagram (#gnfacobs).  


Do you like to hike? Do you like to ski? Then the King & Queen of the Ridge is for you. Hike, ski and raise money for the Friends of the Avalanche Center in their 2nd biggest fundraiser of the year. Join the effort to promote and support avalanche safety and awareness! Fundraising prizes for the top 5 individuals who raise over $500. No racing is necessary to compete for the fundraising prizes. Info is HERE. Race participants for the February 4th event must register separately with Bridger Bowl HERE.

Upcoming Avalanche Education and Events

Our education calendar is full of awareness lectures and field courses. Check it out: Events and Education Calendar.

February 4, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., LIVINGSTON Avalanche Fundamentals. Information and course registration are HERE.

February 5, 10 a.m.-2p.m. Companion Rescue Clinic Field Day in the Bozeman area. Required Online Classroom Session at 6 p.m. on Feb 3. Information and course registration are HERE.

February 9, FREE Avalanche Awareness at REI Bozeman. More details to come.

February 11, 10 a.m.-2p.m. Companion Rescue Clinic Field Day in the Bozeman area. Required Online Classroom Session at 6 p.m. on Feb 10. Information and course registration are HERE.

Every Saturday, 10 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Avalanche Rescue Training, drop in for any amount of time. Round Lake Warming Hut, Cooke City. Free.

Loss in the Outdoors, is a support group for those who have been affected by grief and loss related to outdoor pursuits. Check out the link for more information.

The Last Word

Check out the weather and avalanche log for a rundown of recent weather and avalanche conditions.

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