SNOW PACK

By on February 20, 2013

Latest Conditions

Every slide path in the surrounding mountains was once formed when an unstable snowpack released destroying everything in its way. Trim lines and open areas mark where historical slides occurred and reshaped forests. As humans, we remember the paths which had taken our friends and wondered if these dragons will kill again. Each winter season’s snowpack is unique to the season’s weather. So far this season our snowfall has been low.

Currently we are dealing with two dragons: new snow slabs and persistent weak layers lingering within the snowpack. During the January drought many crusts and facets formed. Since then several storms have deposited snow on these layers. In some areas the snow is quite stable, but in other areas this slab may be waiting for an added load or just the right trigger. These persistent weak layers may be hard to predict and could release on slopes which have been skied. The new snow slabs will be more perdictable, smaller and easier to trigger, although if caught in the wrong terrian these small slabs could be deadly.

As the days grow longer the sun rises in the sky and its effects are even greater on the snow. Warm temperatures melt snow at lower elevations and on south facing slopes, then cold temperatures refreeze the snow making it firm. Fresh snow caused these surfaces to look great, but ski like coral reef. Consistent northwest winds have scoured high west slopes and formed firm, wind pack on north facing slopes while soft powder is likely hidden among shaded trees.


About Lisa Van Sciver

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