Avalanche experts report snowpack doubled in many areas

GALLATIN COUNTY

POSTED: 4:51 PM Nov 10 2012
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Experts with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center say the snowpack depth doubled in many areas.

They say the storm brought a heavy snow and, in many places, fell onto a dense, strong base.  But experts say this may not be the case everywhere.

What they do know is that a big dump of snow like the one that fell can cause avalanches.

In Cooke City, experts say they found two feet of strong snow and one to two feet of a strong base snow in other areas.

They say their immediate concern is the surface boundary between the old snow surface and new snow.

Avalanche experts remind folks heading out take precautions:

1. Dig down to the old snow surface and check to see if the new snow is sticking.  

2. Probe the snow with a ski pole, if it's easier to push through the bottom layers of old snow, it means you have heavy snow on top of a weaker base, a recipe for avalanches.  

3. As you approach ridgelines, lookout for wind drifts, these could avalanche, especially after a storm.  

4. Travel one at a time in avalanche terrain (slopes steeper than 30 degrees).  

5. Read the avalanche report on the GNFAC's website and make sure you've taken avalanche education classes.

6. Experts say hunters are especially vulnerable to avalanches since they're thinking about elk and deer, not avalanches.  They remind hunters to avoid snow covered, open slopes, especially ones with wind drifts or ones that drain into gullies.