This week produced another round of snow with accumulations in the 10-15 inch range above 6500 feet. Winds have been gusty throughout the week and mostly out of the S and SW. North and South Valley areas have both seen the same weather this week with cornices slowly growing and wind loading occurring on mostly E, NE, N and NW facing slopes. Yesterday's touring conditions and ski conditions were perfect with light density snow on all aspects. We observed active wind loading and wind slab formation throughout our tour that was mostly confined to the Northerly aspects near Secesh Summit. These slabs ranged from a few inches thick to over a foot and were just becoming sensitive to the weight of a skier by mid afternoon.
A cold front is still dominating the weather throughout the West Central area but will begin to give way to a warm front as a major storm enters the area tonight. Expect gusty winds with this next front and a warming trend for tomorrow. Also, expect the avalanche hazard to increase tonight and through the day tomorrow as 10-15 inches of warmer, higher density snow is added to the new snow total for the week.
The snow that fell throughout the week this week came in small increments of light density snow that did not have a major effect on stability. Loose, unconsolidated snow has been the trend for over a week creating a soft and unconsolidated upper snowpack. In our pit tests yesterday we saw several of these individual storm layers that were only partially bonded to the layers below creating moderate failures in compression but lacking propagation or the energy to spread out over large areas. It is possible that you could trigger a weakness in one of these layers on steep terrain resulting in a shallow slab in the 3 to 12 inch range today. Worth noting and watching over the next 24 hours is a subtle crust that was created mid morning on Monday that is between 6 and 10 inches down in the snowpack. It is starting to disintegrate but has the potential to create a weakness with the addition of our next storm's new snow and additional weight. We found this layer to be fairly widespread yesterday in the mid to upper elevations and had reports of it from the South Valley area as well.
Sluffing or loose, dry avalanche activity is also possible on steep slopes because of the light density snow right now. If you are skiing in steep, committing terrain, especially in confined terrain or above obstacles, be aware of the potential for sluffing and plan a route to avoid letting it push you where you don't want to go.
Please let us know what you are seeing in the West Central Mountains. Take the time to submit an observation or send us an email. It's easy and may save a life. If you are having trouble adding photos to your observation, send us the photo at our email address and we will add it to your observation. Click on the observation tab on the advisory page or email us at: email@example.com
Yesterday we were able to see a lot of terrain and multiple aspects, no recent avalanche activity was observed and none has been reported this week. The biggest factor affecting the snowpack was the wind yesterday. Gusts in the 20+ range were common throughout the day. These were actively transporting snow into the northern aspects and affecting the snowpack on exposed ridges and slopes.
The snowpack gained both strength and depth throughout the last week. We found just over 8 feet of snow around 8000 feet yesterday on a North facing slope and just under 6 feet of snow at 7500 feet in a protected basin yesterday. Basin wide snowpack surveys are showing a return to normal or above normal conditons across the mid and northern portions of Idaho. Snowpack tests are showing increasing stability and that our persistent weak layer is now getting enough weight to compress it and insulate it from the effects of skiers and riders in the McCall/ Valley County area. However, it is still present iin the snowpack and could still be a problem given the right combination of snowpack depth and additional loading. You should still be wary of slopes with a shallow snowpack where the layer is closer to the surface. and you are more likely to trigger the weak layer. This layer is also still active and producing avalanches in the mountains adjacent to the PAC advisory area.
|0600 temperature:||14 deg. F.|
|Max. temperature in the last 24 hours:||22 deg. F.|
|Average wind direction during the last 24 hours:||SW|
|Average wind speed during the last 24 hours:||10 mph|
|Maximum wind gust in the last 24 hours:||26 mph|
|New snowfall in the last 24 hours:||inches|
|Total snow depth:||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.