Outdoors

Avalanche advisory: Dangerous conditions widespread

With Lake Pend Oreille below, snowshoers head up Goat Peak in the proposed Scotchman Peaks Wilderness. (Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness)
With Lake Pend Oreille below, snowshoers head up Goat Peak in the proposed Scotchman Peaks Wilderness. (Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness)

WINTER SPORTS — Winter has ended on a high note in terms of snow in the mountains, with a better than average snowpack that is still accumulating. 

Skiers, boarders and snowmobilers should find great spring riding well into June this year, said Kevin Davis of the Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center.

BUT anyone braving the mountains during this wet weekend should be aware of the “considerable” potential for avalanche on the steep slopes.

Read on for the region's full avalanche advisory.  

 

 

 

AVALANCHE ADVISORY

 

U.S. FOREST SERVICE

FORECASTER:  Davis

IDAHO PANHANDLE AVALANCHE CENTER

EFFECTIVE DATE:  03/30/2012

DATE ISSUED:     03/30/2012  0730

OUTLOOK:  03/31-04/01/2012

This report does not apply to local ski areas within the forecast region and the hazard rating will remain valid through midnight March 30th, 2012.  Special thanks to Idaho Parks and recreation for sponsoring this Avalanche advisory.   

This will be the last weekly advisory for 2012.  I’ll issue the safe spring riding tips in April.  We really appreciate the help with the observations out there and especially with the narly weather we’re having this month.

WEATHER

TODAY:  100% chance of 3-7 inches to the north and 1-2 to the south.  At 6AM I’m seeing temperatures at 5,000 feet at 35 degrees, could go higher.  W winds are strong with gusts into the 30mph range.

TONIGHT:  Precipitation will continue with 1-3 inches to the north and 3-5 inches to the south.  Temperatures should drop below freezing, strong winds out of the W/SW but decreasing.

OUTLOOK:  More of the same all the way to Sunday.  Storm totals by Sunday could be as much as 1-2 feet of new snow to the north and 8-14 inches to the south.  Watch for very warm temperatures during the day Saturday with winds picking up and bringing in warm, moist air from the south.  Freezing levels will be hovering around 6,000 feet so heavy snow mixed with rain will be likely.  By Sunday snow fall continues but the temperatures drop as strong winds shift to the west.   Windows of increased avalanche danger will occur during periods of heavy snowfall and rain for the outlook period.

Selkirk and Cabinet mountains:In the Cabinet mountains yesterday we broke into the snow at about 4,000 feet.  You’ll find about 1 foot of heavy snow overlying a wet crust from the sunny weekend.  We got easy to moderate shears at this layer on a N aspect and produced small, wet slides at this layer on steep S aspects.  Winds were heavily loading easterly aspects yesterday and this will continue for the next few days.  The snowpack is heavy and wet and generally gains density with depth, which is good, but be aware deeper weak layers exist around melting crusts.  Jake found the mid-February surface hoar still intact but difficult to shear.  Heavy new snow is your concern today, especially where wind-loaded.  Avalanche danger is rated CONSIDERABLE on all wind-loaded aspects steeper than 35 degrees above 5,000 feet.  Avalanche danger is rated MODERATE on all other aspects steeper than 35 degrees above 5,000 feet.

St. Regis Basin and Silver valley:  Up around 6,000 feet at Lookout Pass Carole and Dan observed high winds transporting a lot of snow in the Basin.  Warm weather was creating snow rollers on south aspects.  The weakest layer yesterday was the weekend sun crust about 10 inches deep.  Watch this one on wind-loaded aspects.  At Silver Mountain they found very easy shears at this layer yesterday on a wind-loaded NW aspect.  Further south on Windy Peak, Joel Kopf found easy shears on a west aspect, and hard but clean shears deeper in the pack, possibly at the mid-February surface hoar.  I think you could see some natural avalanche activity today on wind-loaded aspects, primarily at the upper crust on steep easterly slopes.  Avalanche danger is rated CONSIDERABLE on all wind-loaded aspects steeper than 35 degrees above 5,000 feet.  Avalanche danger is rated MODERATE on all other aspects steeper than 35 degrees above 5,000 feet. Rain will be our nemesis for a while  adding weight rapidly and stressing surface weak layers, weakening cornices, and lubricating sliding layers, especially above crusts.  Wet slides will occur on southerly aspects and deeper firmer slabs could occur on wind-loaded E/NE aspects.  Deeper weak layers could be triggered from shallow weak layers failing.  Cornices will be weak now with the warm weather and rain.  Things will firm up by Sunday with cooler weather but more snow will continue to pose stability issues in new snow.  Conditions are challenging right now, but remember that the avalanche hazard is greatest during periods of snowfall and strong winds and it takes a day or two for the snowpack to stabilize.

I’ll issue the Spring Riding Tips next week.  Thanks to those that came to Laughing Dog Brewery last night and contributed to the fun and sponsorship of IPAC.  Thank you to Karl for inspiring us to get out with the incredible pictures.  A big thank you to the Friends of IPAC for organizing the event.

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’ Outdoors blog


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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