Problem #1: Wind Slab
Location: E-SE-S-SW aspects, and cross-loaded slopes/gullies on other aspects, at and above treeline. Strong winds out of the Northwest over the last several days have loaded lee aspects with wind slabs of varying thickness and reactivity. Any recent wind slabs will be cold and bonding may be relatively poor. Wind slab can be identified by dense, cohesive snow, cracking, and a hollow or drum like feel. Look for wind slab in top and cross loaded terrain like below ridge lines and along gullies. These avalanches could lure riders well onto the slab before failing and could be surprisingly large. Stick to wind-protected areas where the surface snow is still soft and fluffy.
No recent avalanche activity has been reported for this zone. Look for evidence of any fresh wind slab avalanches that may have occurred over the last few days, and avoid those aspects.
A quick but strong burst of snowfall is expected Thursday, with increasing southerly winds and snow levels rising to near 1000ft by evening. 3-6" of new snow is expected. Friday will bring cooling temps and an end to the snow. Another shot of light snow is likely Saturday evening. Sunday-Tuesday will bring in a pattern change, with a strong and wet storm that could bring heavy accumulations and rising snow levels.
( *star means meteorological estimate )
If you get out riding, please send in an observation!
Do a rescue practice with your partners. Always carry a beacon, shovel, and probe, and KNOW HOW TO USE THEM. Come to our FREE backcountry skills workshop on January 10th (see flyer below).
Practice good risk management, which means only expose one person at a time to slopes 30 degrees and steeper, make group communication and unanimous decision making a priority, and choose your terrain wisely: eliminating unnecessary exposure and planning out your safe zones and escape routes.
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