Observation: Powder Mountain Backcountry

Observation Date
03/5/2018
Observer Name
Nathan Chaszeyka

Region:

Location Name or Route
Powder Mountain Periphery
Weather
Sky
Obscured
Precipitation
Moderate Snowfall
Wind Direction
Northwest
Wind Speed
Moderate
Weather Comments
By 0900 it appeared that the storm was going to be "all blow and no go" with meager totals insufficient to eliminate the feeling of the old surface. By late in the day enough accumulation had gathered for much improved skiing. Strong winds on the peaks made observations of old crowns and communication difficult.
Snow Characteristics
New Snow Depth
4"
New Snow Density
Low
Snow Surface Conditions
Powder
Snow Characteristics Comments

Initial morning accumulations were fairly low density and skied well but were not enough to keep off the bottom of the old firm surface below. Late in the day a density inversion appeared to be happening with graupel falling notably at 4pm. 

Red Flags
Red Flags
Recent Avalanches
Cracking
Red Flags Comments
Quite a bit of cracking noted during travel, accompanied by a number of pocket releases of wind slab activity. These slabs were very soft and low in density with the majority being only 2 or 3" deep. Control work performed by the ski patrol in prior days had released sizable, deep, and dangerous hard slabs in terrain that had remained unopened/unskied this season. An testament that the persistent slab problem, while a bit dormant, exists. Tripping the trigger would be catastrophic.
Avalanche Problem #1
Type
Wind Slab
Trend
Same
Problem #1 Comments

The winds picked up and persisted throughout the day. New drifts were forming over fresh tracks in minutes. With the wind moving snow in many directions, it would be easy to be surprised. 

Avalanche Problem #2
Type
Persistent Slab
Trend
Same
Problem #2 Comments

It's still there and should be given serious consideration in all travel plans. The takeaway from the patrol's results for me is that a lot of areas have still not been skied due to the conditions of this winter. The danger lies in opening new terrain where the energy may still be stored in that persistent layer and awaiting a trigger. 

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