Outdoors blog

Avalanche advisory: generally safe conditions for snowgoers

WINTER SPORTS -- Click below to see the weekly advisory released this morning from the Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center:






EFFECTIVE DATE: 01/13/2012

DATE ISSUED: 01/13/2012 0730

OUTLOOK: 01/14-15/2012

This report does not apply to local ski areas within the forecast region and the hazard rating will remain valid through midnight January 13, 2012. Special thanks to Idaho Parks and recreation for sponsoring this avalanche advisory.

Thanks to Silver Mountain for the pit data from Kellogg Peak!


TODAY: Mostly Sunny! High of 25 with calm winds up to 6 mph.

TONIGHT: 10 percent chance of snowfall, temperatures in the low 20’s, and increasing westerly winds.

OUTLOOK: Looking at continuing increase in snow showers Saturday night in to Sunday with 2-4 inches expected Sunday and another 2-4 Sunday Night with breezier conditions. Avalanche danger may increase toward the end of the outlook period due to increase in snow with wind loading.

Selkirk and Cabinet mountains: In the Selkirk Mountains near Sunokee yesterday we found 6 feet of snow on a SE and N aspect. In the snowpack we observed 4-6 inches of good snow on the westerly slopes and twice the amount on E and NE aspects with some shears about 25 cm down which sits on a supportable ice crust at 40 cm depth that is around 8-10 cm thick. We also noticed two persistent weak layers of surface hoar 70-80 cm down that reacted with clean shears on a compression test of 23 taps. Note that there was some wind with Monday nights storm and we observed lots of pockets of windslab throughout our traverse. Tom and Mark found similar results at Schweitzer Mountain. Avalanche danger is rated Considerable on wind-loaded aspects, and convex terrain, steeper than 35 degrees above 5,500 feet. The avalanche danger as Moderate on non wind-loaded slopes less than 35 degrees.

St. Regis Basin and Silver valley: At Lookout Pass yesterday Carole and Dan found a snowpack with ice crust sandwhiches throughout the pack and sugary facets between. There was some surface hoar on top which may pose as a problem with windloading and any new snow that comes our way. The weakest layer was the new snow sitting on a crust. The pack portrayed moderate stability with a foot more snow on the North aspect. On Kellogg Peak Dave and the patrol got an easy shear on a surface hoar layer 5 cm below the new snow which will be something to watch out for with the new snow on the way. The ice crust still persists with lots of facets in the pack. Some bridging from crusts exists but don’t count on that improving the stability everywhere. Avalanche danger is rated Moderate on wind-loaded aspects steeper than 35 degrees above 5,000 feet. The avalanche danger as LOW on non wind-loaded slopes less than 35 degrees. Be on your toes in your terrain selection today and this weekend. There are mixed conditions with pockets of buried surface hoar, wind pillows and various windloading. Dig down 2-3 feet, isolate a column, and do a quick shear test. If it pops out easily, stay off steep slopes there. Watch steep rollovers on big exposed terrain. On Sunday if it snows enough, watch the surface layers over last week’s crust, facets and surface hoar depending on your location. It is all site specific. Watch for the new snow and windloading as we get further into the weekend and the Holiday as there could be significantly more stress on the snowpack’s layers.

The next avalanche advisory will be issued January 20th.

Contact: Kevin Davis (208) 265-6686, Ed Odegaard (208) 245-6209, or John Olson (208) 265-6635

This message is available by calling (208) 765-7323 or toll-free at 1-866-489-8664.

E-mail address: kevingdavis@fs.fed.us, eodegaard@fs.fed.us, jrolson@fs.fed.us, ebmorgan@fs.fed.us

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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