Avalanche: Huntington Canyon

Observer Name
Kobernik - Kendall
Observation Date
Monday, January 7, 2019
Avalanche Date
Monday, January 7, 2019
Huntington Canyon
Location Name or Route
Dam Sluff Cuts & Camp Chutes
Avalanche Type
Soft Slab
Avalanche Problem
Wind Drifted Snow
Huntington Canyon near the Electric Lake dam received 15 inches of snow from this storm containing 1.6" H2O.  The snow was upside-down and there was significant wind involved.  Wind was blowing and drifting snow way down through Avalanche Alley.
We noted a couple of small avalanches.  The most notable was a pile of debris in one of the Camp Chutes.  Visibility was poor so it was difficult to make out where it started.  We could make out fractures low in the path but the debris pile seemed too large (note decent size dead tree in the debris also) to be just from the lower section of the path.
The Dam Sluff Cuts were partially scoured to the dirt with a few pockets of wind slabs between.  This small pocket was most likely triggered by a snow plow.  It did not spill into the road.
Unfortunately, the basal layers of the snowpack in Huntington Canyon have fallen apart due to it's shallow nature combined with the mid December dry spell.  Basically, all of the snow prior to the Christmas Storms has turned into loose faceted sugary snow grains.  Of note, the majority of the recreational terrain along the main portion of the Skyline has a much deeper and stronger snowpack without this type of weak snow near the ground.
Below is a photo of a snowpit from a north facing slope just above the dam.
I was able to remotely trigger the test slope above the snow study plot.  It was hard to determine whether the weak layer was the VERY loose facets at the ground or just the new lower density snow under the higher density wind blown snow.  It could've been either.  The bottom line is that the snowpack is not supportable here anymore and skis basically punch through well into the facets now.
Below is another snowpit from Blue Cut Chutes at 7900', east facing.  It's basically the same structure, just less overall snow.

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