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Avalanche danger ‘considerable’ in many areas

WINTER S PORTS -- The avalanche advisory issued by the Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center this morning warns of "considerable" danger on many areas of the Inland Northwest.

Avalanche conditions for the Idaho Panhandle National Forest are rated as Considerable on wind loaded aspects above 5000 feet.  Natural avalanches are possible and human triggered avalanches are likely.  

Avalanche conditions are MODERATE on other aspects and elevations below 4500 feet.  Natural avalanches are unlikely and human caused avalanches are possible.

See the complete avalanche advisory here.

Read on for more details from this morning's advisory:

“Last weekend’s big snow then rain on snow that subsequently froze has hit the “RESET” button on the North Idaho snow pack,” said John “Oly” Olson, Forest Service avalanche spokesman in Sandpoint.

“At Schweitzer in the Southern Selkirks there was on the average about 4” of new snow yesterday laid down in a 40 to 55 mph wind.   The places where the ice was scoured off was a beautiful robin’s egg blue and harder than the back of my head.  Eric and I found that the snow arrived after a cold clear night just before dawn and those sheltered northerly exposures had a fair crop of surface hoar on this blue ice.  

“The failure layer was also observed to be in the new snow, possibly stellar on a wind bridge.   Dave Alley and the crew at Silver Mtn. reported similar conditions and the ice layer there was 30 cm. thick, almost a foot.  They reported ski cutting slabs to 18” on this crust.  Folks, this is the area of concern.  Wind loaded northerlies above 30 degrees.

The avalanche conditions will remain for the outlook period.

Across the forecast area the big westerly winds have created large cornices with deep pillows.  It was reported in the ski area that these pillows were filling in every run.  Imagine what the natural terrain has loaded up to.  The forecast for today is 100% chance of snow above 4500’ with a warming trend and possible rain in the valleys.  It should be a good time to hit the lower angled slopes at the higher elevations to get those sheltered powder pockets.  There is a decreasing chance of snow through the outlook period.

Dan was able to report from Lookout Pass yesterday and found similar conditions.  He said the winds and loading at the higher elevations above 5200 feet are going to be considerable in areas where wind has loaded slopes over 32 degrees.




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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