Avalanche Information Update – 3/28/2014

Good Morning! This is Erich Peitzsch with the Flathead Avalanche Center with an avalanche information update. The next regularly scheduled advisory will be issued Saturday, March 29, 2014. 

Mountain Weather

A moist system moved through the advisory area yesterday and overnight dropping 6-9 inches of new snow and 0.5 – 1.5 inches of SWE.  Storm total from the past 24 hours at SNOTEL sites and remote weather stations:
Noisy Basin (Swan Range): 10 inches snow, 1.5 inches SWE.
Stahl Peak (Whitefish Range): 7 inches snow, 1.0 inches SWE.
Flattop Mountain (Glacier Park): 6 inches snow, 0.4 inches SWE.
Pike Creek (Flathead Range): 7 inches snow, 0.3 inches SWE.
Shed 7 (Glacier Park): 6 inches snow.

Temperatures currently range from 22-29° F with winds out of the southwest at 5-20 mph and gusts into the 30 mph range. Another moist system moves into the region this afternoon/evening with snow levels potentially up to 5000 feet.

Snowpack Discussion

Substantial weight was recently added to the snowpack, particularly in the Swan Range which saw the largest accumulation of 1.5 inches of SWE in 24 hours. Weak layers and crusts are now buried by this new snow with additional wind transported snow from strong winds.  Expect to encounter storm slabs and wind slabs on any aspect, and cross loading can create wind slabs in gullies and exposed terrain features at any elevation. Surface crusts previously existed on all but the most shaded slopes from the most recent warm and sunny periods. These crusts provide a great bed surface for this new snow to slide on. Allow the snowpack time to adjust to this new load, and avoid steep and wind loaded slopes. Avalanches can fail within the new storm snow or at the new and old snow interface. Of course, these avalanches still have the potential to step down into deeper weaker snow in the snowpack as we still contend with a deep slab avalanche potential. Also be aware of avalanche terrain above you and avoid runout zones of avalanche paths.

The next regularly scheduled advisory will be Saturday, March 29, 2014.