Avalanche Advisory published on January 26, 2019 @ 7:05 am
Issued by Dave Bingaman - Payette Avalanche Center
bottom line

The Avalanche Hazard is MODERATE in upper elevation wind loaded terrain. Shallow wind slabs are possible near ridge tops and on exposed terrain.  Small, loose/dry snow avalanches or sluffs are also possible in very steep, wind protected terrain.  Roller balls and other types of loose/wet activity will increase throughout the day on slopes affected by warming temperatures and direct solar effect.  Use safe travel protocols, be aware of changes in the snowpack on different aspects and enjoy a strengthening snowpack.

How to read the advisory

  • Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
Avalanche Problem 1: Wind Slab
  • Character ?
  • Aspect/Elevation ?
  • Likelihood ?
    Very Likely
  • Size ?
    Very Large

Wind Slabs are still a problem to consider if you are skiing or riding in steep, exposed terrain right now. Observations from PAC staff and others throughout the area still point to a small but nagging problem of punchy feeling wind slabs in terrain that has been affected by the winds.  These slabs have strengthened over the last week but are still something to consider if you are in steep, confined or consequential terrain where a small slab could push you into or over downhill hazards.

Overnight, northerly winds increased with gusts getting close to 30.   Pay attention to wind stiffened snow near the ridgetops on the northern exposures today or places that show obvious wind effect in the form of ripples or small pillows.

In addition, other steep slopes may produce small loose avalanches or sluffs.  As you move into steeper terrain, keep in mind that you are likely to see dry snow moving with you.  Even small sluffs can steer you where you don't want to go especially in tight, confined terrain.  Sunny aspects are beginning to shed snow as well.  Temps will be climbing into the 30's today at the upper elevations. Roller ball and small, loose/wet activity will increase on steep southerly aspects as the sun hits them.

Just because the snowpack is strengthening does not mean you should let your guard down, be smart, use safe travel protocols including 1 at a time on steep terrain and be aware of changes in the snowpack throughout the day on different aspects.

advisory discussion

PAC should be back to a normal forecast schedule next week with the end of the government shutdown.

SNOWMOBILERS- please be aware that there are areas that are CLOSED to motorized traffic in the McCall  and greater West Mountain area.  See the Payette Winter Travel Maps for clarification.  Both the East and West maps can be downloaded on the Avenza app on your phone or are available at trailheads and local shops.   IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO KNOW WHERE YOU ARE AND WHERE THESE CLOSURES EXIST.  

Over the last week, George and I witnessed several incursions in areas that are closed,  including this area near Maloney Lake where we were skiing on our day off.  We also witnessed violations yesterday in the Brundage Cat Ski Terrain.  If we don't respect area closures and other recreationists using these areas, we will see more regulations , enforcement and more negative user encounters.  Use the map, use your brain and respect closures where they exist. Share the snow and show respect when you encounter ski tracks in the backcountry, there is plenty of snow out there for all of us.

Photos show sled tracks into closure in the upper SF of Lake Fork.  The pics also show our ski tracks that were there when the incursion happened.  Our personal sleds were parked just to the right of the tracks for the entire day while we were touring in the non-motorized closure.  Good backcountry etiquette is to avoid slopes where skiers or other users are playing.  It is pretty hard to imagine that a group of 6 folks could be that unaware of basic  backcountry courtesy...

recent observations

We found generally improving conditions throughout the week this week.  Snow quality started out heroic and has slowly been seeing the effects of warming temperatures.  Yesterday we found great conditions with a few minor sun crusts forming on a western aspect and snow that was getting baked by the sun on southerly aspects.  There is still plenty of good, soft snow out there but you are going to have to look a little harder.  

Steep slopes were producing loose, wet debris by mid afternoon yesterday. These slopes are not where the good snow but should be considered as temps warm again today.


CURRENT CONDITIONS Today's Weather Observations From the Granite Weather Station at 7700 ft.:
0600 temperature: 29 deg. F.
Max. temperature in the last 24 hours: 29 deg. F.
Average wind direction during the last 24 hours: N
Average wind speed during the last 24 hours: 6 mph
Maximum wind gust in the last 24 hours: 34 mph
New snowfall in the last 24 hours: 0 inches
Total snow depth: 0 inches

.SHORT TERM...Today through Monday...Upper level ridge over the
west coast will keep northerly flow over the forecast area today.
The ridge will remain over the region through Monday for warm and
dry conditions. A weak surface inversion will help stratus and fog
development mainly in the sheltered mountain valleys. Despite the
inversion, afternoon temperatures have reached the mid 40s and
expect that trend to continue through Monday.

.LONG TERM...Monday night through Friday...An upper ridge will
maintain the dry conditions and slightly above-normal temperatures
through midweek. The ridge axis along the west coast will slide
inland and weaken during this period. An upper low is expected to
bring a chance of precipitation Wednesday or Thursday, although
confidence in the track of the system is low due to significant
differences in model solutions. A wetter and larger upper trough is
progged to move into the west, including our area, by the end of the
week for a better chance of precipitation. Temperatures will remain
slightly above normal.

Two-Day Mountain Weather Forecast Produced in partnership with the NOAA-NWS
McCall Airport at 5021 feet.
  Saturday Saturday Night Sunday
Weather: Patchy fog before 11am. Otherwise, sunny, with a high near 37. Calm wind. Patchy fog after 11pm. Otherwise, partly cloudy, with a low around 22. Calm wind. Patchy fog before 11am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 37. Calm wind.
Temperatures: 37 deg. F. 22 deg. F. 37 deg. F.
Wind direction: Calm Calm Calm
Wind speed: 0 0 0
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0 in. 0 in.
Granite Mountain at 7700 feet.
  Saturday Saturday Night Sunday
Weather: Sunny, with a high near 32. Northwest wind 3 to 7 mph. Partly cloudy, with a low around 23. Light and variable wind becoming south 5 to 7 mph in the evening. Mostly sunny, with a high near 33. South southwest wind around 7 mph becoming west northwest in the afternoon.
Temperatures: 32 deg. F. 23 deg. F. 33 deg. F.
Wind direction: NW S SSW
Wind speed: 3-7 5-7 7
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0 in. 0 in.

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.