East Jackson hillside avalanches into street

February 13, 2019

Pick a steep enough northwest Wyoming slope and there’s a good likelihood that it can avalanche.

East Jackson’s esteemed Nelson Knoll proved the point Tuesday when the hillside’s west face gave way, sending blocks of snow from a crown that broke in the Bridger-Teton National Forest sloughing into town proper.

Notes appended to the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center’s description of the slide succinctly summed up the cause: “Triggered by a dog.”

A snowboard track just north of the slide path indicates that Fido had a bipedal friend. The slide was human-caused in another way, too: The slope that produced it is a relic of a historic dump.

East Jacksonites had fun with their neighborhood slide online, posting pics with hashtags like #eastjacksonwalkinghazards.

“Hard slab too,” one woman weighed in on Facebook. “The wind must have honked through there with the latest installment of the storm.”

The 10-inch-deep snowslide broke on a 36- to 40-degree slope at 6,407 feet, some 170 feet above the town’s official elevation. The remnants of the soft slab spilled out an estimated 4 to 5 feet into Nelson Drive, but the pile was cleared out by a plow by late afternoon.

Nelson Knoll’s avalanche wasn’t the only slide that ripped Tuesday in view of residential Jackson. The gulch looker’s right of East Gros Ventre Butte’s so-called Taco Bell Couloir (towering above where the namesake restaurant once stood) also naturally avalanched, producing a slightly larger debris pile.

Don’t plan on Tuesday’s “considerable” avalanche hazard abating come Wednesday. The National Weather Service is expecting a major winter storm to swoop across the region through the day, depositing up to a foot of new snow in Jackson that will potentially erase any evidence of Nelson Knoll’s broken slope.

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