Wind slabs have been our main avalanche concern through most of the last week. After a mostly calm day yesterday, winds shifted around to the W and WSW overnight with gusts in the 20+ range. Throughout the last week we have seen winds in excess of 30 mph from a variety of directions. Expect multiple generations and layers of wind slabs on upper elevation, wind exposed terrain today. Shallow, and sensitive wind slabs may be found below ridgetops, in gullies or other small terrain features on most upper elevation slopes. Over the last week, these wind slabs have been responsible for several human triggered avalanches as well as a substantial natural avalanche cycle. In most areas, the weak layers are in the upper 45 cm (18 in) of the snowpack. Several of the recent avalanches were triggered in these shallow layers and then "stepped" down or were able to propagate down through some dense snow to the February 9 rain crust(see photo below). In some areas this week we have also found a layer of rounding facets above this crust which is giving us hard results but very clean shear planes in our pit tests.
Also, keep in mind that cornices are very large and overhanging right now. Avoid traveling past the vegetation line on any corniced ridgelines right now, if you go past the trees, you are probably on overhanging snow. We have seen some very large cornice failures over the last few weeks.
The good news is that not only are these wind affected areas not where you want to be skiing or riding right now but they are also easy to recognize; wind sculpted, textured or scoured northerly slopes are easy to pick out visually. Also, plenty of soft, deep snow will be found out of these exposed areas and lower down in wind protected terrain. The bad news is that starting later this morning, SSW winds are going to continue to ramp up with an approaching storm system settling in for the first half of the week. 3-5 inches of snow is forecasted for today which is going to start camouflaging our current wind slab problem and add some new snow for yet another round of fresh wind slab to start forming. Expect the avalanche danger to rise through the afternoon today and tomorrow as the new snow starts to accumulate.
Snowmobiler/Snowbiker Travel Restrictions: Please respect these closures and other users recreating in them. Winter Travel Map(East side). You can download the map to the AVENZA app on your phone, and know your exact location while you are out riding. It is your responsiblity to know where closures exist on the forest.
The Granite Mountain Area Closure is in effect Jan15-March 31, please respect Snowcats operating in this and nearby areas. In addition there are other areas on the Payette National Forest that are CLOSED to snowmobile traffic including Jughandle Mt east of Jug Meadows, North of Boulder Mtn, East of Rapid Peak, North of the 20 mile drainage, Lick Creek/Lake Fork Drainage (on the right side of the road as you are traveling up canyon), and the area north of Brundage Mt Ski area to junction "V" and along the east side of Brundage and Sergeants' Mts. with the exception of the Lookout Rd( junction "S").
The Friends of the Payette Avalanche Center (FPAC) needs YOU! We are in desperate need of more user support and financial assistance. The avalanche forecast is not a guaranteed service, and is in jeopardy of dwindling down to only a couple of days a week in the near future.We have equipment that is overdue for replacement but lack the funds to purchase new gear including weather station parts and our forecast sleds. Please help if you can by clicking the DONATE tab above. If you value this life saving information, make a donation or help the FPAC in raising funds for the future.
Several Northerly slopes failed earlier this week producing large avalanches down to a weak layer near the Feburary 9th rain crust. Skiers and Snowmobilers were able to trigger shallow wind slabs and storm slabs in many places as well. While these slabs have begun to stabilize over the week, avoiding steep, easy to spot wind affected terrain is going to be your most prudent choice today. Small sluffs or loose, dry avalanches are also a concern on steep slopes. Cornices have also continued to grow over the last week and we are seeing some of the bigger cornices we have seen in a few years on the ridgetops. Avoid heavily corniced areas as these monsters are really unpredictable right now.
A good practice and route finding excercise is to consider the consequences of something breaking before you get out on steeper terrain. What kind of slope is it? Where would an avalanche take you? Are there trees or rocks below? Is there an escape route available? Play it safe in wind affected terrain and enjoy all of the soft deep snow on protected aspects. Sledders and skiers will find plenty of fresh snow out there right now.
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|Max. temperature in the last 24 hours:||14 deg. F.|
|Average wind direction during the last 24 hours:||WSW|
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|Maximum wind gust in the last 24 hours:||20 mph|
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|Total snow depth:||68 inches|
This avalanche advisory is provided through a partnership between the Payette National Forest and the Payette Avalanche Center. This advisory covers the West Central Mountains between Hard Butte on the north and Council Mountain on the south. This advisory applies only to backcountry areas outside established ski area boundaries. This advisory describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur. This advisory expires at midnight on the posted day unless otherwise noted. The information in this advisory is provided by the USDA Forest Service who is solely responsible for its content.