You are most likely to find wind slabs (soft and hard) on or near ridgetops scattered from the E through the N and back to the SW aspects. Visually, the areas of wind slab will likely have a different texture and feel hollow or punchy. In the wrong spot (shallow rocky, thin areas) these wind slabs may be resting on faceted or unconsolidated snow below and have the potential to become a nasty hard slab avalanche. This potential should be enough to keep you on your toes even though we are in a period of LOW danger. It should also be enough to keep you from skiing rocky areas that have visual evidence of recent wind effect or a much thinner snowpack. Snowmobiles are more likely to trigger this wind slab than a skier especially if you are high marking or making successive side hill runs through steep wind loaded areas. Be aware of how deep your track is digging and if you feel a sudden change in that depth, that means you have just cut through into the less consolidated snow below the more firm wind slab.
A combination of a few inches of new snow earlier in the week and cold, facet forming conditions is bumping up the sluff potential right now. They are just big enough to grab your skis and jerk you around if you stay in them. If you are skiing or riding in steep terrain (40+ degrees), use good sluff management by performing slope cuts before committing to a steep line. If you are skiing steep, confined terrain have a plan or think about the consequences of getting pushed off course by a sluff, they have more than enough power to push you into or off of obstacles below.
Remember LOW danger does not mean no danger. Tonight we will likely see an increase in avalanche danger if we get the forecasted snow and wind. Use safe travel protocols: Travel one at a time up, down, or across slopes in avalanche terrain, exposing only one person at a time while keeping eyes on your partner. Have a plan when skiing/riding a line and share the plan with people in your group.
Surface Hoar is growing throughout the advisory area, and we need your help tracking it. It grows during clear, humid and calm conditions and once buried, it is a particularly thin, fragile and persistent weak layer in the snowpack, which accounts for a number of avalanche deaths each season. Luckily it is so fragile that it can also be destroyed by wind or dense/heavy snow (let's keep our fingers crossed). If you are out and see surface hoar let us know, it is important to track this layer as we move forward in the avalanche season.
This is the last day before our mountains get a fresh start. We may see some light flurries, temperatures a bit warmer than the last few days in the upper elevations just below freezing, and some moderate winds before this evening, when a storm is to bring some much needed snow, and with it some of our serious South West winds around 40MPH.
Valley temperatures will be slightly cooler than the upper elevations as this inversion makes way for the storm.
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.