Windslab continues to be our biggest concern today. We observed widespread wind transport of the new snow yesterday as winds ramped up in the afternoon and swirled from the SW to the W through the day. Expect to find new and sensitive windslabs on upper elevations, E, NE, N and NW slopes today. Given the velocity of the winds and the light snow being transported, you can expect to find wind deposited snow much further below the ridges than we have seen over the last few days of relatively light winds. Expect to see pillows, spindrift cones and other tell tale signs of wind blown snow below steep or rocky headwalls and lower down in northerly terrain than normal. By yesterday afternoon, we were able to ski cut the freshly formed slabs on steep leeward terrain to a depth of about 6 inches. You can expect to find shallow and deeper(possibly over 2 feet?) windslabs throughout the north country depending on the windward snow fetches and the size of the deposition area or catchment. Look for tell tale visual clues and don't ignore cracking or hollow feeling snow beneath your skis or sled today.
In wind steep, protected terrain, it remains possible to kick off some small sluffs or smaller windslabs on micro terrain features. Plan accordingly if you are skiing or riding on steep confined or consequential terrain. Most of the snowpack that saw any sun on Wednesday got a light but breakable crust eliminating the possiblity of loose slides today. There are however a few protected areas where they remain a concern.
We toured around on the Western edge of Squaw Point yesterday and had a fully mixed bag of weather and snow conditions. Early in the day clouds and blowing snow kept visibility at a minimum and accumulated the forecasted 1-3 inches of snow before 1 pm. In the afternoon the winds kicked it up a notch and we had a break in the clouds that gave us a great view of the local peaks and the deep snowpack on all of our Northerly terrain. We also obsereved high winds buffeting the peaks and snow plumes stretching quite a way down wind of the peaks. We even saw a unique and quite large snow devil working up a ridgeline in upper French Creek. These strong winds did a great job covering our tracks in a small NW bowl and instantly creating thin(but growing quickly) reactive wind slabs on all leeward features. Everywhere we looked we were amazed at the size and amount of cornices overhanging ridges and bowls, and even mid elevation sub-ridges and smaller terrain features. It has truly been a windy winter. The upper 18 inches of the snowpack above last weekend's melt freeze crust looked very good and has begun to consolidate from the crust up providing pretty good stability in the new snow we got this week. Below the crust there are still some weak layers preserved that may linger through the end of the season. These deeper layers will likely continue to be hard to trigger until we see another major warmup.
Today is going to bring another 1-3 inches of snow to the West Central Mountains with temperatures close to normal. A cold front tonight will drop temperatures down into the low teens tonight. Winds will be light to moderate in the upper elevations today out of the West then shifting around to the Northwest as the cold front enters the area later in the afternoon or early evening, Another pulse of moisture is headed our way on Sunday with the chance of more precipitation through the early part of next week.
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.