Reported Monday, December 27, 2010 at 6:10 AM
MODERATE (Level 2) on all aspects and elevations.
Avalanche Problem #1
Lingering deep slab instability is going to be the main concern. The fact that avalanches may only occur on isolated terrain features makes it worth advising backcountry travelers to use extra caution on steep terrain especially slopes with multiple trigger points or a variable snowpack.
Avalanche Problem #2
As mentioned, surface sluffing could be significant today and need to be factored into the terrain decision making process. In addition, targeted observations should be used when trying to determine if newly formed wind slabs are present.
In the Backcountry
Although we had a few inches of new snow the main concern is still deeper in the snowpack. Yesterday there was a snowmobile triggered avalanche in the Kebler area up Robinson Basin after several high marks on steep terrain. Overall there is a strong mid pack but areas of weaker snow are still lurking around rock outcroppings and hollow tree areas particularly on steep isolated terrain features. Although avalanches may be difficult to initiate, once it cracks the slabs may be surprisingly larger, wider and deeper then expected. Mother Nature is not screaming avalanche hazard but the snowpack is whispering “use extra caution”. The snowpack near and above treeline is still variable and may only need a person to hit the right spot to wake up the weak layers in the snowpack and trigger an avalanche. In addition to the deeper weak layers we can expect high speed sluffing on steep slopes on all aspects. These sluff may not be confined to only the new snow but actually entrench a significant amount of surface snow. Finally, newly formed wind slabs may be found near and above treeline on lee aspects. These slabs could be very reactive to human triggering.