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Daily Winter Weather Report

Date: Wednesday - 21 December 2011

Station Max Temp Min Temp Pres Temp New Snow Depth Sky Present Conditions
Canyon 24 -6 11 2 19 OC Snowing
East Entrance 35 4 19 2 17 OC Calm / Light snow
Grant Village 27 11 15 4 25 OC Calm / Snowing
Lake 24 1 14 2.5 17 OC Light Snow

Madison 21 -2 20 2 13 OC Snowing
Mammoth 36 15 21 1.5 7 OC Moderate snow
Old Faithful 33 2 15 2 14 OC Snowing

Snake River 33 0 17 5 24 OC Light snow
Soda Butte

Thumb Divide

Tower - - - - - - -
West Entrance 22 16 18 3.5 16 OC Light Snow
T=Trace / BC=Broken Clouds / OC=Overcast / SC=Scattered Clouds
All Temperatures are in °F ~ All Snow Depths are in Inches

* * * Road Conditions * * *
Road Section Status Conditions Public Access / Info
Gardiner to Mammoth YR Good STA
Mammoth to Tower YR Good STA
Tower to NE Entrance YR Good STA
Beartooth Highway CLOSED * CLOSED * CLOSED *
Firehole Canyon Drive CLOSED CLOSED CLOSED
Grant to South Entrance Open   Rubber tracked oversnow concession vehicles
Junction to Chief Joseph Hwy CLOSED * CLOSED * CLOSED *
Lake to East Entrance CLOSED CLOSED CLOSED
Madison to Old Faithful Open   Rubber tracked oversnow concession vehicles
Madison to West Yellowstone Open   Rubber tracked oversnow concession vehicles
Mammoth to Norris Open   Rubber tracked oversnow concession vehicles
Norris to Canyon Open   Rubber tracked oversnow concession vehicles
Norris to Madison Open   Rubber tracked oversnow concession vehicles
Old Faithful to Grant Open   Rubber tracked oversnow concession vehicles
Tower to Canyon CLOSED * CLOSED * CLOSED *

YR=Year Round / NR=No Restrictions / STA=Snow Tires Advised / STR=Snow Tires Required


# Poor road conditions - bare spots and melting snow - Restricted to Snowcoaches Only.

The park service plowing schedule for roads for the spring season.

******** FOR CURRENT ROAD INFORMATION PLEASE CALL 307-344-2117 ********


Yellowstone Forecast on December 21, 2011
by the National Weather Service Riverton, WY

Today: Snow. High near 15°F. Wind chill values as low as -15°F. Chance of precipitation is 100%. Total daytime snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

Tonight: A 40 percent chance of snow, mainly before 11:00 pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around -14°F. Wind chill values as low as -30°F. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 14°F and a low around -15°F. Wind chill values as low as -25°F.

Friday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 18°F and a low around -7°F. South southwest wind between 8 and 11 mph.

Saturday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 19°F and a low around 2°F. West southwest wind between 7 and 11 mph.

Sunday / Christmas Day: Mostly sunny, with a high near 25°F and a low around 5°F.

Monday: A slight chance of snow. Partly sunny, with a high near 20°F and a low around 3°F.

Tuesday: A slight chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 23°F.

Snowflake Hazardous Weather Snowflake Gibbon Falls Forecast Snowflake Mammoth Forecast Snowflake Midway Forecast Snowflake Norris Forecast Snowflake Old Faithful Forecast Snowflake

* * * Snow Depth Totals as reported at SNOTELs * * *
Station Depth (inches) Station Depth (inches)
Black Bear 34 Parker Peak 32
Blackwater 36 Snake River Station 19
Canyon 17 Sylvan Lake 26
Evening Star 33 Sylvan Road 16
Fisher Creek 40 Thumb Divide 20
Grassy Lake 26 Two Ocean Plateau 40
Lewis Lake Divide 28 West Yellowstone 13
Madison Plateau 24 Whiskey Creek 19
Northeast Entrance 10 Wolverine 13

Avalanche Information
from the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center - December 21, 2011 - this report is by Doug Chabot. This advisory does not apply to operating ski areas.

Mountain Weather

It started snowing in the mountains around midnight which will continue today. At 6:00 a.m. the Gallatin and Madison Ranges (Bozeman to West Yellowstone) are showing 5 to 6 inches of light powder with Cooke City getting 2 to 3 inches and the Bridger Range 1 to 2 inches. Mountain temperatures are in the teens Fahrenheit with northwest winds averaging 10-15 mph and gusts into the 20s. Snowfall will end later today with an additional six inches falling at the higher elevations.

Snowpack and Avalanche Discussion:

The Bridger, Gallatin and Madison Ranges, the Lionhead area near West Yellowstone and mountains around Cooke City:

If the storm continues as predicted, the avalanche danger will rise. We have a weak snowpack and the new snow will likely be the first real test of its integrity.

Throughout southwest Montana, this new snow is falling onto either a thin (under 2 feet), weak snowpack made up almost entirely of facets, or a thicker snowpack (over 2 feet) with two weak layers: facets buried a few inches under the surface and another near the ground.

In the Bridger Range we've gotten reports of a thin snowpack consisting of facets. Skiers around the Throne and Flathead Pass found lots of weak snow that will quickly become unstable as it gets loaded.

In the Madison and southern Gallatin Ranges from the mountains around Big Sky to West Yellowstone, the snowpack is also thin and weak. I was in Beehive Basin north of Big Sky on Sunday, to the south on Buck Ridge yesterday and in the Taylor Fork and Bacon Rind areas last week. I dug many snowpits and found large-grained, unsupportable facets throughout, which explained why I was sinking to ground every time I stepped out of my skis or off my snowmobile.

In the mountains around Cooke City and the northern Gallatin Ranges, the snowpack is three feet deep in most areas. A layer of facets near the ground is slowly gaining strength, but should not be discounted. Another prominent weak layer in the snowpack is small-grained faceted snow or surface hoar found a few inches under the snow surface. Yesterday a skier triggered a small slide on a near surface weakness outside Cooke City.

The snowpack will not tolerate much of a snow load. Although the current (6:00 a.m.) 4 to 6 inches of 5% density snow is not enough to tip the scales, continued snowfall today will ripen the slopes for avalanches.

Right now the Avalanche Danger is rated MODERATE, but another 4 to 6 inches would ramp up the danger towards CONSIDERABLE and possibly even HIGH if we get an especially robust snowfall.

The next advisory tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m. If you have any snowpack or avalanche observations, drop us a line at or call us at: 406-587-6984.


1. We've recently uploaded more photos and snowpits to our web site, more than what are linked in the advisory.

2. We're creating a series of "How To…" stability test videos. So far we've got clips on performing a CT and ECT. There are located under Stability Tests on the Resources page.

Information provided by Doug Chabot, Mark Staples, and Eric Knoff from the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center. For Photos and Videos, please visit the Avalanche Centers Website!

If you have any snowpack or avalanche observations, drop them a line at or call: 406-587-6984.

For detailed Avalanche Terms utilized here, please see the Avalanche Glossary.

Avalanche Danger Scale

Back to the Yellowstone Daily Winter Reports or the Yellowstone Weather Page

Information provided by Yellowstone National Park, National Weather Service and Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center

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