Observation: Snake Creek

Observation Date
01/22/2018
Observer Name
B

Region:

Location Name or Route
Snake Creek Canyon to Sunset and back to Brighton
Weather
Sky
Overcast
Precipitation
Moderate Snowfall
Wind Direction
Southwest
Wind Speed
Moderate
Weather Comments
Clear skies until 1030 then it clouded up quickly with S1 snowfall throughout the afternoon at upper elevations. WSW winds picked up as the storm moved in. Wind blown/transport was moderate with slab development even down off the ridgelines. Temperatures remained cold throughout the day despite the forecast indicating moderate warming.
Snow Characteristics
New Snow Depth
3"
New Snow Density
Low
Snow Surface Conditions
Powder
Wind Crust
Melt-Freeze Crust
Snow Characteristics Comments

Variable conditions in some places with wind scoured slopes mixed with wind slabs varying from 4-finger to 1-finger in hardness. Wind slabs of up to 18 inches deep were observed. Cracking was observed, but for the most part these slabs were unreactive and stubborn in test areas. Despite these wind slabs in many locations in the upper elevation terrain, it was not difficult to find undisturbed high quality light powder on many aspects and elevations. The sun has yet to adversely affect any of the southerlies even down to 8000 feet. Riding on the southerlies is table top powder turning; and even the easterly aspects have a supportable crust under the new snow. The latest event has settled out by 30%, and it was obvious that at least 15 to 18 inches fell. Even at the upper elevations you could find certain aspects and features that escaped the wind damage, and in the more protected areas there was excellent mid winter turning conditions that were considered the best of the year.

Red Flags
Red Flags
Recent Avalanches
Wind Loading
Cracking
Poor Snowpack Structure
Red Flags Comments
The poor snowpack structure in the Alta and Brighton Perimeter appears to be generally turning around slowly as the HS increases, yet in many places crust facet sandwiches (ESE through SE upper elevations) are still worrisome. Of concern was the discovery that the far right nostril and bowl area of the Dog Lake Chutes had slide mid storm and left a slick bed surface, and this surface is allowing fast long running loose snow dry avalanches. Cracking was observed in many wind slab locations See above for wind loading.
Avalanche Problem #1
Type
Wind Slab
Trend
Decreasing Danger
Problem #1 Comments

See above, and if the winds die down as the forecast indicates this problem should decrease over the next 24 hours. 

Irregardless, it was very likely that many upper elevation east through south east aspects were receiving significant wind loading and slab development today. 

Avalanche Problem #2
Type
Persistent Slab
Trend
Increasing Danger
Problem #2 Comments

Isolated/rocky thin areas continue to be the red flag locations of concern in the Alta and Brighton perimeter where the HS is now at least two meters. 

Today it was very easy to initiate long running loose dry avalanches that were entraining significant amounts of snow, and in many places running on slick bed. This issue may continue to be a concern on Tuesday in steep northerly facing terrain. 

For Tuesday, the first real sun (and temps into the upper 20's at 9000 feet) since the latest event should increase the likelihood of widespread loose wet activity on steep slopes with SE, S and SSW aspects. As a result the danger on Tuesday may be Considerable for natural wet activity, and continue at Moderate for all other problems. 

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