Observation: Skyline

Observation Date
12/9/2016
Observer Name
Kobernik, Kendall, Hadley

Region:

Location Name or Route
South Twin Creek
Weather
Sky
Broken
Wind Direction
Southwest
Wind Speed
Moderate
Weather Comments
Moderate wind speeds off the higher ridges, strong along the higher terrain. Very mild temperatures all day.
Snow Characteristics
New Snow Depth
2"
New Snow Density
Medium
Snow Surface Conditions
Dense Loose
Wind Crust
Damp
Snow Characteristics Comments

Warm temperatures and wind has changed the surface snow quite a bit since Thursday.  Nearing 10,000', we found wind slabs (fresh drifts) and a slight upside-down feel to the snow surface.  The snow was slightly damp even on north aspects up to about 9500'.  The entire snowpack was damp from the surface to the ground below about 8600'.

Red Flags
Red Flags
Wind Loading
Rapid Warming
Red Flags Comments
Obvious plumes of snow visible off the high ridgelines indicating drifting snow and wind slab formation. Rapid warming was no doubt happening however, as it turned out, this did not influence the avalanche danger today.
Avalanche Problem #1
Type
Wind Slab
Trend
Increasing Danger
Problem #1 Comments

The only real concern out there today was the potential to trigger a fresh wind slab (snow drift).  I'm not sure how sensitive the new drifts were as we didn't encounter any up close and personal.  We only saw the obvious signs of wind loading.  We experienced very minor and localized cracking in the wind effected snow.

Snow Profile
Aspect
Northeast
Elevation
9700
Slope Angle
30
Comments

Today I was again pleased with what I found in the current snowpack structure.  I see no weak layers of real concern.  We were able to produce a "not so clean shear" between last week's big storm and the small storm from Tuesday night.  I don't think this is much to be concerned with in the long run.  Perhaps some of the recent wind slabs would release on this layer.  I suspect it will heal and become nonexistent in short order.

Photo below:  This textured and rippled looking snow is formed from the wind.  This is the type of snow you want to avoid on steep slopes especially as it is forming during the stronger wind speeds.

The danger for the majority of the terrain is LOW.  The danger is MODERATE along the higher ridges where you encounter snow that looks like what is pictured above.  Human triggered avalanches are certainly possible on slopes over 35 degrees that have been wind loaded.

Today's Observed Danger Rating
Moderate
Tomorrows Estimated Danger Rating
Moderate
Snow Profile Coordinates