December 30, 2011 in City, Idaho

Avalanche danger high in mountains

 

An avalanche advisory was posted today for mountains of North Idaho.

The Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center reported today that layers of snow and ice have created instability in the snow pack.

Weaknesses between the layers could give way and cause snow to slide. Recreation uses could trigger those slides, forest rangers said.

Ski areas are considered safe because unstable slopes are managed inside ski parks. Schweitzer ski area this morning reported that its patrol was working on avalanche control.

During wild land checks of the snow pack on Thursday, rangers reported a total of five feet of snow with two ice layers in the top eight inches. One of the ice layers was composed of hoarfrost dropped during the region’s extended dry period earlier this month.

Wind this week has pushed newer snow to leeward slopes and added weight to those areas of the snow pack, creating hazardous conditions.

The avalanche danger is considered high on wind-loaded slopes above 5,000 feet with an angle greater than 35 degrees.

Additional snow that falls today and tonight is expected to increase instability.

The avalanche advisory applies only to backcountry areas and not to managed ski areas within the region.

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