Observation: Rocky Point

Observation Date
04/21/2017
Observer Name
B

Region:

Location Name or Route
Sunset, Rocky Points, Dog Lake Chutes
Weather
Sky
Overcast
Precipitation
Light Snowfall
Wind Direction
Northwest
Wind Speed
Light
Weather Comments
The day started out with Overcast skies and the cloud cover remained in place until at least 1200 when very brief periods of sunshine allowed for the skies to become Broken for the early part of the afternoon. By 1530 the cloud cover continued to lesson and at 1600 the skies were Scattered. The winds were Light and only observable on the ridgelines. There was Light Wind Blown observed with cornices building and loading occuring on S and SE aspects directly off the ridgelines. Temperatures were able to stay cool enough for the majority of the day due to the cloud cover and this kept the snow surfaces from becoming damp on many slopes.
Snow Characteristics
New Snow Depth
8"
New Snow Density
Medium
Snow Surface Conditions
Powder
Dense Loose
Wind Crust
Damp
Snow Characteristics Comments

New snow in the past 24 hours was 12 inches. Thursday afternoon saw at least 4 inches of snowfall, and an additional 8 inches feel overnight. The last couple inches appeared to be lighter density and the overall event was right side up. Riding conditions were a bit thick, but excellent in dense settled powder. It was critical to ride slopes that did not have any old avalanche debris chunks and or old tracks. Both steep and low angled slopes rode very well. Due to the cloud cover up until mid day NE and E aspects along with N aspect held cold dry snow except on slopes with angles 25 degrees and less. S, SW and W aspects got damp later in the afternoon. Wind scouring and crusts were observed up near the ridges and peaks. And, as a result these starting zones did not have areas of slab development and or loading. These same E and NE upper elevation aspects will be the place to go in the early morning hours on Saturday before the sun warms up these slopes. Minimal Wet Loose activity was observed on SE and S aspects at 1600 upon exiting, yet with the intense April sun there may have been more widespread activity before the end of the day. 

Red Flags
Red Flags
Recent Avalanches
Poor Snowpack Structure
Red Flags Comments
Poor snowpack structure continues to be observed on all aspects below 9600 feet. In the morning there was a 2 to 4 inch melt freeze crust at the interface to the new snow. But by late afternoon below 9600 feet, the residual warmth from the buried wet grains had help soften this crust and have the base of the turning conditions be spongy and damp. These damp grains may be suspect over the weekend when we get back into more multiple nights without refreezes occurring, and they are 12 to 18 inches deep in many places. Recent avalanche activity observed was confined to minimal Wet Loose on SE and S. With the intense late afternoon sunshine and lack of cloud cover, SW and W aspects may have seen addtional activity.
Avalanche Problem #1
Type
Wind Slab
Trend
Decreasing Danger
Problem #1 Comments

Isolated pockets of cross and top loaded soft wind slabs were observed. On NE, E and SE aspects in the morning hours slope cuts initiated soft slab avalanches within the top 2 to 4 inches of the new snow. For the most part they were manageable. Of note, these slabs were mostly stubborn and less reactive as the day progressed. 

Avalanche Problem #2
Type
Loose Dry Snow
Trend
Increasing Danger
Problem #2 Comments

Sluffing was occurring on very steep slopes, and it was also manageable. Clear skies and cold overnight lows may actually see an increase in this problem on Saturday before the temperatures and the sun warm things up. 

Wet Loose activity will be the most significant problem on Saturday, and on slopes at 9600 feet and below any such avalanches may have the potential to dig deep into the buried wet grains. 

Wet Slabs can not be ruled out, and by the end of the weekend and into Monday the possible lack of overnight refreezes may help bring about this possibility with the previously cited wet grains becoming reactive.

Fridays Danger appeared to be a manageable Moderate during the time spent out in the field; yet with the intense April sun and lack of afternoon cloud cover SW and W aspects may have seen more Wet Loose activity escalating the Danger to Considerable. Saturdays weather forecast for clear skies and rapid warming appears to be enough to have the Danger be Considerable. 

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