The possibility of triggering Wind slabs is still lingering in the upper elevation areas near ridge tops and in a few pockets where 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. Keep in mind that wind slabs are commonly triggered from thin areas, or edges of the slab.
The Sun is helping consolidate the snowpack. Northern, shady aspects will have deeper snow. 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.
The Sun is putting out some heat on the Southern aspects. Solar radiation, and warmer temperatures today have the potential to kick loose point releases, especially in steep terrain that faces due South. Theese small avalanches will be most likely in rocky, shallow terrain. While small, they could cause you to ski or ride into an area you may not want to. You will also notice a thin crust forming on the surface of Southern aspects surface from the sun.
Our snowpack is fairly strong. We are seeing some good settlement...a great base for the beginning of January. The sun is putting thin crusts onthe surface, especially due South. A strong snowpack 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, especially above 7,000 feet where the wind has loaded slopes, and developed slabs. Wear and know how to use your beacon, probe, and shovel.
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Today we will see bright sunny skies,and warmer temperatures, closer to freezing in the upper elevations.Tonight,clouds will develop with a slight chance of snow, and a possibility of a wetter pattern developing, but there is a possibility of a split in the storm track?
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.