avalanche

Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center

The Rocky Mountain states have experienced avalanche activity in recent weeks that forecasters are calling ‘historic.’

Wyoming experienced some of its largest avalanches in decades. "These are thirty, fifty, maybe a hundred year events," says Bridger Teton Avalanche Center director Bob Comey.

The spate of slides culminated this weekend, with avalanches burying several roads and popular trails in the Jackson area.

Bridger Teton Avalanche Center

Avalanche season in Wyoming has begun, and the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center in Jackson raised the avalanche risk from low to moderate on Thursday afternoon.

Bob Comey, director of the avalanche center, says that early snow in September followed by dry, warmer weather in October has contributed to avalanche conditions. That warmer weather melted some, but not all of the early snow.

“It has become what we call a persistent weak layer, that has since been covered by quite a bit of new snow that fell in late October and early November,” Comey says.

Two dead in western Wyoming avalanches

Jan 28, 2013

Avalanches killed two skiers from Jackson in western Wyoming yesterday.  Elizabeth Gray Benson, 28, was west of Bondurant when an avalanche caught her and carried her into a tree. Nick Gillespie, 30, was in the north end of the Teton Range.

Bob Comey with the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center says significant new snowfall on top of a slick, older base of snow means the risk for avalanches is considerable.

Avalanche risk 'considerable' at high elevations

Dec 3, 2012

The Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center has raised the risk of avalanches to “considerable” for areas above 9,000 feet.

The Center’s Mike Rheam says that means naturally occurring avalanches are possible, and human-triggered avalanches are likely. Rheam says there’s a two-foot slab of new snow at high elevations in western Wyoming, which could give way easily.

Park County authorities have identified a snowmobiler and a skier who died in separate avalanches near the Montana-Wyoming line.

Forty-four-year-old David Lee Gaillard was skiing with his wife Saturday southeast of Cooke City when an avalanche occurred around 2 p.m.

Park County Coroner Al Jenkins says Gaillard's wife tried to find her husband but was unsuccessful. She traveled to Cooke City to report the accident and emergency responders recovered the body.

Authorities say avalanches have killed a snowmobiler in Montana and a cross-country skier in Wyoming.

Doug Chabot with the Gallatin National Forest says the snowmobiler triggered the slide about noon on Saturday north of Cooke City in southwestern Montana.

He says two hours later a skier in the North Absaroka Wilderness in Wyoming traveling on flat ground was engulfed by an avalanche that swept down a nearby slope.

The winter storm in northwest Wyoming has caused avalanches in Jackson Hole, Teton Pass, and Hoback Canyon. And the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center says more slides are likely to come.

An avalanche warning is in effect through Friday night. Forecaster Jim Springer says that doesn’t just mean there’s a risk of avalanches; it means they’re already happening.

“If you venture out right now, you’re going to have avalanche problems,” Springer said.

He added that conditions are ideal for slides right now, because early-season snow has been sitting for so long.

Parts of the Bridger-Teton National Forest got more than two feet of snow last week, which led to a considerable risk of avalanches.

The Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center has now reduced the risk to “moderate,” which means natural avalanches are unlikely but human-triggered avalanches are possible.

Lead forecaster Bob Comey says avalanches are often a result of people skiing, snowshoing or snowmobiling in the wrong place at the wrong time.