Wind slabs are still lingering in the upper elevation areas near ridge tops and in a few pockets where the blowing snow can accumulate. You will find them mostly on the North half of the compass and scattered on East and West Aspects. Most of these wind affected areas are going to be pretty obvious as a density change or an area of stiffer snow in the otherwise soft snow around them. Look for them below cornices, on steep roll overs, and in natural catcher's mitts like gullies or small depressions on the slope.You can also see what the wind has been doing, look for drifts, spines or areas of sculpted/scoured snow. These visual clues are pretty obvious if you can see the terrain around you. The wind slabs that we have been finding this week are shallow in most areas and only reactive on steeper terrain.
Small loose, dry avalanches or sluffs should be anticipated on large steep, steep confined slopes or on slopes with obstacles below your intended line. These small slides don't pack a lot of punch but can grab you and push you in a direction you don't want to go whether you are on a sled or skis. These slides are an indicator of how good the snow is staying in protected areas, it takes light dry snow to create a sluff.
As time passes our snowpack continues to strengthen. This is great news, however, you should not let your guard down. Travel smart in the backcountry by exposing only one person at a time when on or near avalanche terrain. Wear and know how to use your beacon, probe, and shovel.
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Expect more of the same in the weather department. A weak system will move to our South over the next few days offering a chance of light snow to the West Central Mountains. Temperatures in the valleys will continue to be below normal with more normal temperatures in the mountains. Expect a few inches of snow through the early part of this week and a return to high pressure with a strengthening of the inversion by New Year's Eve.
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.