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. Fresh, shallow slabs were forming yesterday, withlocalized cracking around skis. You will find them mostly on the north half of the compass and scattered on east and west aspects where cross loading has occured. 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 roll overs, 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.
Well we had a great month of December with great snow and good stability...Now that 2016 is here we might start to see some more erratic snow and avalanche conditions to our area. A combination of crusts, surface hoar (only in sheltered areas where the winds have not broken it down), and small pockets of wind slabs will make any future dumps of snow more suspect to avalanche. So as we move forward into the great year of 2016 as the snow begins to pile up, remember to ride/ski smart and not get complacent about the snowpack below you.
We toured out East of Boulder Mountain yesterday. We covered a lot of ground. The only activity we saw was a very steep, 50 degree, wind loaded rocky face below Buckhorn MT peeledd off leaving a very small piece of debris. The snowpack has settled a lot due to time, and gradual warming. Loose avalanches are not likely a threat any longer. We barely had any sloughing going while skiing 40 degree slopes. North West winds the other day had effected a lot of North facing terrain. Softer snow was avaiable in protectedd areas. Ridgetop winds, in the 20's were transporting, and loading North aspects while we were there.
Snowmobiles are getting into non-motorized areas...check the Winter Travel Map on closures before you head out.
Cloudy skies will be over the advisory area today with South winds 16- 20 miles per hour. Temperatures will be near 32 degrees at upper elevations, then falling to 23. A 40% chance of less than half an inch of snow is possible.
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.