The possibility of triggering wind slabs is still a concern in the upper elevations near ridge tops and in a few pockets where blowing snow can accumulate. A fresh crop of shallow wind slabs have formed since Sunday morning. Yesterday we were on the Six Mile Ridge of Granite Mt. at our weather station and found areas with significant loading and drifting near the ridgetop. Over the last few days we have also observed cracking around and in front of our skis in these areas. You will find these new and some old wind slabs mostly on the north half of the compass and scattered on east and west aspects where cross loading has occurred. Be weary of cross loaded slopes in the upper elevations where shifting winds have caused inconsistent loading.
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 rollovers, and in 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. Keep in mind that wind slabs are commonly triggered from thin areas, or edges of the slab.
Snowmobiles are getting into non-motorized areas...check the Winter Travel Map on closures before you head out. Remember that the Granite Mt. closure goes into effect on 1/15 also, please respect non-motorized closures in the area.
Skiers and riders are getting into some of our more consequential terrain...make sure that you have an escape route planned if something goes wrong: if you do trigger a wind slab in a steep, wind loaded start zone, you may take a long ride into rocks, or possibly off a cliff. Use good travel practices when you are in steeper terrain and make sure that everyone in your group is carrying avalanche rescue gear.
Expect light snow through the day today with 1-2 inches of new snow tonight. Warm temperatures will remain through tomorrow. Most of the moisture from will be passing to the south of the West Central Mountains as a Pacific Storm tracks through the Southwest and Central Nevada. Look for decreasing temperatures ahead of another high pressure that will enter the Northwest over the weekend.
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.