Observation: Snake Creek

Observation Date
01/5/2018
Observer Name
B

Region:

Location Name or Route
Wasatch County: Caribou & Snake Creek Canyons
Weather
Sky
Few
Wind Direction
Southwest
Wind Speed
Light
Weather Comments
Mostly clear skies with a few clouds in the pm. Winds were light and nonexistent at times. Temperatures were unseasonably warm.
Snow Characteristics
Snow Surface Conditions
Dense Loose
Faceted Loose
Wind Crust
Melt-Freeze Crust
Damp
Snow Characteristics Comments

Conditions are extremely variable. Some of the older thinner wind slabs are breaking down and assimilating into the faceted snowpack. Near the ridges, the wind slabs are still patchy and inconsistent. The terrain lower in the drainages on the low angle aprons seem to have the best riding in loose faceted turning conditions. As the sun continues to get higher in the sky, the steeper eastern aspects gather more solar radiation, and get damp by 1030/1100. South and SW aspects as well are getting damp and melt freeze crusts are an issue by late in the afternoon. 

Red Flags
Red Flags
Poor Snowpack Structure
Red Flags Comments
No collapsing noted again today and the absence of this red flag has been going on now for 5 days. Poor snowpack structure continues to be the theme. The height of snow in Caribou ranges from 60 to 85 cm, and the entire snowpack now consists of varying sizes of facets from moderate to advanced.
Avalanche Problem #1
Type
Persistent Slab
Problem #1 Comments

At this point in time, the Christmas Slab that was responsible for the widespread activity up until a week ago, now appears to be unreactive. In most places the slab is metamorphosing/degenerating/recrystallizing and in general becoming uncohesive. Of note, the largest (up to 3 mm), and weakest facets were observed 35 cm down directly below the dirty graupel layer that has been visible all season. Even a minimal amount of new snow combined with wind loading may be enough to get the surface facets reactive again, and avalanches that are able to gain momentum may be able to dig down into these deeper buried layers. Saturdays forecast for 1 to 3 inches most likely won't be enough unless the this forecast is underestimated and the winds are able to come into play. The highest elevation northerly and easterly facing terrain may get enough wind transport to be an issue. 

Avalanche Problem #2
Type
Loose Dry Snow
Trend
Same
Problem #2 Comments

Both loose dry and loose wet avalanches were easily initiated on slopes with angles 35 degrees and greater. This issue was manageable, but these avalanches were entraining significant amounts of snow and gouging up to 10 cm down in the pack. Finding oneself in a confined chute and or gully could result in being pushed into high consequence terrain issues, and with the early season snowpack there are plenty of obstacles. 

Danger appeared to be Low, and may rise to Moderate on Saturday with additional snowfall accompanied with wind. 

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