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.
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.
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.