Be aware that you could still trigger a shallow or deep wind slab on upper elevation wind loaded slopes. New slabs were forming on Thursday as the winds picked up and the new snow came in at a slightly warmer temperature than the cooler snow on the ground. Temps dropped quite a bit Thursday night and dried out the snow but remember that cold temperatures do a great job preserving wind slabs and other weaknesses in the snowpack. You will be able to spot wind affected slopes literally from a mile away, look for and avoid sculpted or pillowed features as you make your terrain choices.
The light, dry snow is moving easily on steeper slopes and it could push you off course on a sled or skis. Be aware of sluff potential and your exit options if you are riding or sliding in steep, confined terrain or terrain with obstacles or cliffs below you.
With COLD temps over the last two days the new snow has continued to dry out leaving behind some literally blower powder as a great Christmas present. If you are getting out in the backcountry right now, you know exactly what we are talking about. While we have been seeing a few weak layers in the new snow, these layers lack the ability to propagate or spread across even our small test blocks when initiated. Watch for surface hoar growth over the next few days, clear nights and light winds are exactly what will build our next weak layer. Let us know if you are seeing pockets of surface hoar while you are out traveling.
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This avalanche advisory is provided through a partnership between the Payette National Forest and the Payette Avalanche Center. This advisory covers the West Central Mountains between Hard Butte on the north and Council Mountain on the south. This advisory applies only to backcountry areas outside established ski area boundaries. This advisory describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur. This advisory expires at midnight on the posted day unless otherwise noted. The information in this advisory is provided by the USDA Forest Service who is solely responsible for its content.