Avalanche Advisory published on January 10, 2016
The avalanche danger is Low today on non wind affected aspects. Remember Low Hazard does not mean no Hazard, you will still need to watch for avalanche hazard on isolated terrain features. In steep upper elevation, wind loaded areas the possibility of triggering shallow wind slabs and fast moving sluffs remains. If traveling on high elevation, steep slopes today, evaluate the snow and terrain carefully, and use good travel protocols.
A series of upper level troughs will be moving across the Southern edge of the area beginning Monday night with a chance of snow across the West Central Mountains. Tuesday will see a strengthening of the high pressure with mostly cloudy skies. Wednesday brings a better chance of snow with a stronger trough moving into the area and giving us a chance of snow showers for the remainder of the week.
Surface Hoar continues to grow throughout the advisory area, without much wind in the forecast pay attention as we receive several light accumulations of cold snow towards the middle of the week. As the new snow slowly accumulates, the areas that formed surface hoar will become our next weak layer.
Avalanche Problem #1: Wind Slab
You are most likely to find wind slabs on or near ridgetops scattered from the E through the N and back to the SW aspects. Visually, the areas of wind slab will likely have a different texture and feel hollow or punchy. In the wrong spot(think shallow rocky, thin areas) these wind slabs may be resting on faceted or unconsolidated snow below and have the potential to become a nasty hard slab avalanche. This potential should be enough to keep you on your toes even though we are in a period of Low Hazard. It should also be enough to keep you from skiing rocky areas that have visual evidence of recent wind effect or a much thinner snowpack. Snowmobiles are more likely to trigger this wind slab than a skier especially if you are high marking or making successive side hill runs through steep wind loaded areas. Be aware of how deep your track is digging and if you feel a sudden change in that depth, that means you have just cut through into the less consolidated snow below the more firm wind slab.
Avalanche Problem #2: Loose Dry
A combination of a few inches of new snow earlier in the week and cold dry, facet forming conditions is bumping up the sluff potential right now. They are just big enough to grab your skis and jerk you around if you stay in them. If you are skiing in steeper terrain, use good sluff management. If you are skiing steep, confined terrain have a plan or think about the consequences of getting pushed off course by a sluff, they have more than enough power to push you into or off of obstacles below
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.