Observation – southern Lewis Range

From: Michael Reavis 
Date: 4/10/14
Time: 1000-1500
Location: Southern Lewis Range
Activity: Skiing

Toured to 7600ft. Winds were sporadic and gusty from the SW all day. Skies were mostly clear and temps ranged from the upper 20’s to mid 30’s. Great corn skiing found on all aspects. Noticed many wet slides and small slab releases along the Flathead Range (mainly S and E facing aspects). Also of note, a wet slide (mainly pinwheels and loose snow) on the SE aspect of Mt. Adams ran partway then triggered a slab release. Many cornices along the ridge were beginning to show signs of calving. 

Signs of unstable cornice. Southern Lewis Range. 4/10/2014.

Signs of unstable cornice. Southern Lewis Range. 4/10/2014.

Observation – 3/31/2014 – Marion/Dickey Creek drainages, Middle Fork, Flathead Range

Name: Steven Zwisler
Date: 3/31/14
Time: 1000 – 1400
Location: Marion/Dickey ridge
Activity: Skiing

Skinned up the Marion trail which was made easier by 2-3 ” of new snow and two skiers ahead of us. We climbed up on our own track to the ridge in the forest on the south facing slope. The sun which was out most of the time was transforming the slope causing me to feel like I was crushing grapes at a Fall festival. However, shaded areas still had powder snow. There were no auditory or visual alarms. It was cool and we commented on the fact that the tree ice cycles were not dripping. The north face off the Essex ridge had some sloughing in the open steep areas and we noted an old skin track and a descent line. We skied the long descent to the Dickey Road known locally as Telegraph Hill. It was powder to 5,000 ft skier’s right in the shade, then a supportable crust to 4,800 ft, and then trap crust to the road. It was 40 degrees when we left Essex. We saw no avalanche activity on the north facing run. There was no wind slab formation where we skied though we were looking for it.

Observation – 3/29 – 30/2014 – Pike Creek, Flathead Range and Apgar Range, GNP

Name: Joe Grabowski 
Date: March 29 & 30, 2014
Time: Noon
Location: Pike Creek & Apgars
Activity: Skiing

Snowpack Observations:

Saturday March 29: Toured Pike Creek area south of Marias Pass. Temps just above freezing and snowing on and off with some sunny periods. Snow warmed up over night just enough to make travel conditions difficult. Clumping. About 12″ of storm snow. No signs of recent avalanche activity.

Sunday March 30: Toured from Rubideau to Fern Creek in the Apgar mountains. Warm and sunny for the first half of the day followed by near blizzard conditions at times when crossing the crest of the range; grauple followed up big, wet snow flakes. Breakable trap crust above 4,800′ on all aspects, wet snow below that elevation. No signs of recent avalanche activity or instability. Most of the west facing slide paths had old avalanche debris. Decent travel conditions.

Observation – 3/25/2014 – Peak 6996, John F. Stevens Canyon, Glacier NP, Lewis Range

 

Observer Information

Date: 3/23/14

Time: 1500

Name: Jason Griswold/Brooke Timm

DAILY FIELD WEATHER SUMMARY

ZONE: Lewis Ranger/ Glacier NP

MT RANGE:

ELEV. RANGE: ~6500’

SKY

PRECIP

Type/Rate

Temperature

RIDGETOP WIND (mph) (actual or est)

HN24est @ Elev.

HS est @ Elev.

Trailbreaking/Riding Conditions

Skiing/Riding Quality

AM

PM

AM

PM

Hi

Low

Speed

Dir

4 cm

~310 cm

Approximately 4 cm new snow on established skin track. About 15 cm of easy trail braking off track.

Enjoyable boot top to knee deep powder

 

Intermitten breaking clouds

 

intermittent Light <1cm/ hr

1C

-2C

Calm- gusting 10mph

SE

                             

 

Weather Comments

SKY: Cloud cover, Trend, Timing:Mixed. Sunny and warm during ascent making for some sticky skinning on exposed upper East Ridge. Clouds rolled in while evaluating the pit.

 

PRECIP: Type/rate, Accumulation:Intermittent light snow later in the afternoon.

 

WIND: speed/direction/blowing snow: Winds mostly calm but picked up in late afternoon with gusts from SE of approximately 10 mph .

 

SNOWPACK AND AVALANCHE FACTORS

SNOW SURFACE: (crusts, soft snow, hard snow, dry, wet, sfc hoar) 4 cm new(24 hr) snow on top of recent storm cycle snow.

 

LAYERS OF CONCERN? We found a thin reactive layer of small (<1mm) decomposing facets approximately 70 cm from the surface - though it took hard force for it to fail. The column popped out on CT27 Q1 several centimeters above the early March rain/melt/freeze crust. A subsequent, but impromptu shovel shear had the column pop out directly above that crust at about 90 cm from the surface under moderate force.With the CT Q1 result, we thought we might see propagation in the ECT. No such luck, but we did get ECTN28 on that layer of decomposing facets.We also had ECTN results in some of the various recent storm cycle snow in the top 30 cm of surface snow

 

RECENT AVALANCHE ACTIVITY/OBSERVATIONS: None

 

STABILITY TEST? See above

 

COMMENTS:Lots of snow on the north aspect of Peak 6996 with over 3 meters at our chosen snow pit site (we were actually looking for a shallow spot but were fooled by some hidden terrain features).The gully of the “Big Run” is almost completely filled in – giving the area a much different feel. Skiing the same area on March 20th, I found some wind slab formation just below the summit that quickly dissipated within the first 200 vertical feet or so. On March 23, we did not notice any wind slab in our location.

 

 

 

Avalanche ObservationsNone

NUM

SIZE

LOC

TRIGGER

 

TYPE

INC

ASP

ELEV

COMMENTS:

(Est. Depth, Width, Failure Layer, Timing)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 For a quick reference of snow profile notation click here.
For a full reference check Snow, Weather, and Avalanche Guidelines.

 

 

Observation – 3/20/2014 – John F. Stevens Canyon, Lewis Range, Glacier National Park

BNSF RAILWAY AVALANCHE SAFETY
VOLUNTARY FIELD OBSERVATIONS
(406) 863-0476 Email: richard.steiner@bnsf.com 

 

 

DATE
SUBMITTED:

TIME SUBMITTED:

OBSERVATION LOCATION

OBSERVATION
DATE:

SUBMITTED BY:

3/21/2014

        0800

Shed 4 SZ

3/20/2014

Steiner

GENERAL INFORMATION:

Ascended the looker’s right of the Burnout avalanche path to the east ridge of Snowslip Mountain.  Followed ridge to approximately 5,800 feet elevation and conducted a full snow profile.  Skinning conditions on ascent were good the entire way with many terrain features well buried and new snow to work with.  Trail breaking snow depths varied between 10 and 45 cm.  Descent conditions above 5600 feet were fair with 20 to 30 cm new snow with moderate density on a breakable crust.  Below 5600 conditions worsened as the new surface snow became far denser and underlying snow was moist and not supportive. Difficult skiing. No shooting cracks, snowpack collapsing, or audible failures.

WEATHER OBSERVATIONS:

Overcast skies with light snow and a light to moderate west wind.  Wind transport of new snow was occurring at ridgeline elevation onto easterly aspects. Air temperatures on the Canyon floor hovered around freezing or just above.  Air temperatures at upper elevations remained below freezing all day.  In the past week, 30 to 60+ cm of new snowfall has occurred in the Program Area at all elevations.

 

SNOWPACK OBSERVATIONS:

Conducted a full profile on a 32 degree East/ Northeast aspect at 5,800 feet elevation located in a periphery starting zone of Shed 4.  Snowpack depth was 300 cm (10 feet).

 

  • No significant temperature gradients throughout snowpack. Avg. T -20 C from snowpack surface to 60 cm from surface.  From 60 cm below the surface to the ground, steady snowpack temperature at 00C. t
  • Snowpack was dry throughout until the lower 30 cm which was moist.
  • Main layer of concern at this profile location was an interface of a thin decomposing crust and thin layer of mixed form snow grains located at 150 cm from the snowpack surface.  This interface was NOT obvious in the profile sidewall and not reactive to ECT or CT stability tests. However, this layer was sensitive to Shovel Shear Tests with repeated results of the Shovel Shear Test. (STE X 2).
  • Please note: the Shovel Shear Test is not quantitative in nature but rather qualitative and is a good indicator of where the snow could fail in shear and associated weak layer strength.

Also conducted a Test Pit at 5400 feet elevation on a 37 degree southeast aspect.  Snowpack at this location was 170 cm in depth and MOIST throughout.  Although layering could still be identified throughout, it appears liquid water has affected the entire snowpack and no layers were reactive to either ECT or CT stability tests.

 

AVALANCHE OBSERVATIONS:

No recent avalanche activity observed.

BNSF AVALANCHE SAFETY FIELD OBSERVATIONS SUBMITTED TO FLATHEAD AVALANCHE CENTER AND GLACIER NATIONAL PARK ARE BEING PROVIDEDED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS SPECIFIED GLACIER NATIONAL PARK SPECIAL USE PERMIT.  

THESE OBSERVATIONS REPRESENT SITE SPECIFIC INFORMATION INTENDED FOR THE BNSF AVALANCHE SAFETY PROGRAM AND IN NO WAY ARE TO BE CONSTRUED AS A PUBLIC/ RECREATION AVALANCHE FORECAST. 

For a quick reference of snow profile notation click here.
For a full reference check Snow, Weather, and Avalanche Guidelines.

03_20_14Shed 4D

Observation – 3/19/2014 – Snowshed Mountain, Flathead Range

March 19, 2014 Observations from a tour in the Central Flathead Range:

Objectives: to investigate the snowpack above the most recent rain/snow lines (3/14 and 3/16), search for deeper crust/facet combos, recent and older wind slabs and/or other instabilities; and find fun, reasonably safe skiing.

General info:

Camped at 2100 meters on night of 3/18.  Weather that afternoon had included periods of intense snow showers (up to 3cm/hour) with light and variable winds.  Temp at 17:00 was -6 degrees C.  Trailbreaking had been arduous above 1860 meters, where the last Sunday’s storm had dumped 30 plus cm of dense snow and a similar amount had fallen Monday through Tuesday.  Below  1650 meters trailbreaking had been easy, with 10-15 cm of new snow on top of a supportive crust.  (Below the crust was isothermal mush.)  Climbed on low-angle N-facing slopes in the trees and experienced no whumpfing or cracking.  Above 2100 meters trailbreaking was considerably easier in lighter density snow.

Avalanche info:

Saw no evidence of recent natural avalanches on wind-loaded terrain near Mount Adams, peak 7798, or anywhere else, except for small sluffs on steep solar-affected slopes. (On descent, at 17:15 observed a small recent natural avalanche at 2000 meter elevation with a crown 10-15 cm deep and 30 meters wide that ran 30 meters.  This was on a 38 degree rollover  in a NE-facing gully that has a substantial wind-funnel/fetch immediately above it.   (See attached photos.)

Weather info:

 @ 11:30 am @ 2235 meters: -10 degrees C. Partly cloudy.  Gusty SW winds up to 10m/s.

Observed moderate snow transport onto N through E facing slopes at my location, though big snow plumes were visible off the higher peaks, and wind loading was apparent in an adjacent NE-facing corniced bowl. (photo)

Test Profile info:

NW-facing 35 degree slope near the ridgetop at 2235 meters. 

H.S. Excavated down 200cm, and buried a 240cm probe below that without hitting ground.

Boot penetration: 75cm.  Ski penetration: 32cm.

Hardness, measured from the surface: 0-40cm: F; 40-70cm: 4F; 70-110cm 1F; 110-200cm P. (photo)

Did not find rain crusts in top 200cm of snow.  Did find a few density changes not revealed in hand hardness tests.  (photo)

Test results:

2x CTE @ 20cm Q3 (scores: 5 and 7)

2x CTH @ 40cm Q3 (scores: 24 and 25)

ECTN 10 @ 20cm

Ski cut small moderately wind-loaded rollovers up to 40 degrees with no results.

Skied NW through N-facing wind-sheltered slopes up to 35 degrees without incident.  Skiing quality was excellent. 

At 2100 meters it was -6 degrees C and snowing at 1cm/hour with moderate SW winds at 17:00

At 1160 meters it was 2 degrees C and snowing at less than 1/cm per hour at 18:00.

 

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Observation – 3/13/2014 – southern Whitefish Range

These avalanches likely occurred on Sunday (3/9/2014). They were observed and reported to us on Thursday, and FAC staff investigated the crown in Chicken Bones and determined it did not occur Thursday. Snow on the debris and bed surface indicate it occurred prior to the last snowfall which was Monday (3/10/2014).

Slab observed yesterday on knob near the area known as Big Slide (the large open slope east of WMR seen from Whitefish). Photo: Ted Steiner. 3/13/2014.

Slab observed yesterday on knob near the area known as Big Slide (the large open slope east of WMR seen from Whitefish). Photo: Ted Steiner. 3/13/2014.

 

Slab observed yesterday on in an area known as Chicken Bones east of WMR. Photo: Ted Steiner. 3/13/2014.

Slab observed yesterday on in an area known as Chicken Bones east of WMR. Photo: Ted Steiner. 3/13/2014.

Observation – 3/13/2014 – John F. Stevens Canyon, Glacier National Park, Lewis Range

BNSF RAILWAY AVALANCHE SAFETY
VOLUNTARY FIELD OBSERVATIONS
(406) 863-0476 Email: richard.steiner@bnsf.com

 

 

DATE
SUBMITTED:

TIME SUBMITTED:

OBSERVATION LOCATION

OBSERVATION
DATE:

SUBMITTED BY:

3/13/2014

        1620

Shed 7 West SZ

3/13/2014

Steiner

GENERAL INFORMATION:

Toured through the Shed 7 terminus avalanche debris into the Shed 7 East avalanche path.  Then skinned the looker’s right side (trim line) of Shed 7East path to about 1/2 path.  Exited ½ path hard right into the trees and to the Shed 7 East/ Shed 6 ridge.   Once on the ridge, we worked our way to the Shed 7 East weather station for a welfare check and then onto the Shed 7 West starting zone where we conducted a full profile.  Touring uphill consisted of fair (frozen surface conditions).  Warm conditions in the afternoon created poor skiing conditions at elevations below 6000 feet (1818m). No shooting cracks, collapsing or audible failures observed during today’s field observations.

WEATHER OBSERVATIONS:

Mostly sunny skies with light west winds and air temperatures around 320 F or 00C at our profile location (1300).  Air temperatures on the Canyon floor hovered in the low 30s F  overnight and by late day had reached 400 F (40C).  No precipitation in the past 48 hours. 

SNOWPACK OBSERVATIONS:

Conducted a full profile on a 30 degree south/ southeast aspect (1600) at the top of the starting zone of Shed 7 West at 6496 feet (1968 m) elevation. Profile was 95 cm in height.

 

  • Main layer of concern at this profile location is the interface of a 5 cm thick- 2.0mm facet layer that is on top of an 8 cm 4F+ crust.  This interface was located 70 cm from the snowpack surface or 25 cm from the snowpack/ ground interface.

 

  • Stability Tests:
    ECTP 20, 21 and 25 Q1@ 70 cm from the surface or 25 cm from the snowpack/ ground interface.  This was on top of the previous mentioned decomposing crust and 2 mm facets.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

 

  • This snowpack was isothermal and moist throughout .

AVALANCHE OBSERVATIONS:

Recent size D2 SS avalanche activity observed on a SW exposure of Peak 6996 (False Shields).  Crown(s) located at approximately 6000 feet(1818 m) elevation with terminus debris deposited at unknown elevation in the Shields Creek drainage.  Also Recent size D2 SS avalanche activity (observed 3/12/14) on the NE exposure of Shed 7 West at elevations between 6400 feet (1939 m) and 6600 (2000) feet.  This SS avalanche crown was approximately 200’ (60 m) in length and 30 cm in depth.  Terminus was deposited in the upper starting zone above 6200 feet (1879 m) elevation.

BNSF AVALANCHE SAFETY FIELD OBSERVATIONS SUBMITTED TO FLATHEAD AVALANCHE CENTER AND GLACIER NATIONAL PARK ARE BEING PROVIDEDED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS SPECIFIED GLACIER NATIONAL PARK SPECIAL USE PERMIT.  

 

THESE OBSERVATIONS REPRESENT SITE SPECIFIC INFORMATION INTENDED FOR THE BNSF AVALANCHE SAFETY PROGRAM AND IN NO WAY ARE TO BE CONSTRUED AS A PUBLIC/ RECREATION AVALANCHE FORECAST. 

 

 

1 of 2 soft slabs observed in southern Glacier Park, Lewis Range. 3/13/2014.

1 of 2 soft slabs observed in southern Glacier Park, Lewis Range. 3/13/2014.

2 of 2 soft slabs observed in southern Glacier Park, Lewis Range. 3/13/2014.

2 of 2 soft slabs observed in southern Glacier Park, Lewis Range. 3/13/2014.


For a quick reference of snow profile notation click here.
For a full reference check Snow, Weather, and Avalanche Guidelines.

03_13_14_Shed 7 west

Observation – 3/12/2014 – Tunnel/Pinnacle Creek drainages, Flathead Range

Observer: Pete Costain
Date: 3/12/14
Time: noonish
Location: Pinnacle/Tunnel Ridge
Activity: Skiing

Snowpack Observations:

Toured up onto Pinnacle Ridge above South Tunnel Ck. and found 15-20 cm of fresh dry snow on NW to NE aspects in the morning above 5000 ft. At lower elevations the snowpack was still saturated and soft and up to 5400 ft or so the rain layer below the new snow was still soft. We dug two pits at 6300 ft, one NW and one NE and found the following results, similar in both. 15-20 cm fresh snow on a pencil hard 10-15 cm rain layer – super thick. Interesting to note that this firm layer still felt damp and there were distinct layers within, including rain soaked graupel. Below this was a fairly consolidated snowpack, but with distinct layers. ECT testing produced no results, but there were 5 or 6 subtle layers in the top 150 cm that could be pried off with force to clean shears. The Jan/Feb drought layer was 180-200cm down and was visible but not reactive. By the afternoon any snow not close to due north exposure received a thin sun crust. There was lots of evidence of north facing cornice fall several days prior, and most of the low to mid elevation south facing slopes had already slid or slid during the day, confined to the new snow. Upper elevation north and east facing peaks held together yesterday. Skiing was decent at our elevation, 6800 ft and below, but we could definitely feel the crust below the pow.

Observation – 3/12/2014 – Canyon Creek/Half Moon, Whitefish Range

 

 

Date: 03-12-14

Time:1000 to 1500

Name: Adam Clark

DAILY FIELD WEATHER SUMMARY

ZONE: Canyon Creek, southern Whitefish Range

MT RANGE: Whitefish

ELEV. RANGE: 5000-6800

SKY

PRECIP

Type/Rate

Temperature

RIDGETOP WIND (mph) (actual or est)

HN24 est @ Elev.

HS est @ Elev.

Trailbreaking/Riding Conditions

Skiing/Riding Quality

AM

PM

AM

PM

Hi

Low

Speed

Dir

0

2-3m above 6000’

See below

See below

FEW

CLR

NO

NO

40’s

F

20’s

F

calm

NA

                             

 

Weather Comments

SKY: Cloud cover, Trend, Timing:Few clouds in am, then totally clearing by afternoon.

 

PRECIP: Type/rate, Accumulation:No new precip since Monday (3/10)

 

WIND: speed/direction/blowing snow:Calm winds today, little evidence of wind transport with the snow that fell Monday.

 

SNOWPACK AND AVALANCHE FACTORS

SNOW SURFACE: (crusts, soft snow, hard snow, dry, wet, sfc hoar):1-2cm sun crust found on the surface on southerly aspects in the AM.This began to melt and soften after noon.Below this was 15-20 cm of powder sitting on top of a thick (6cm rain crust).We found some scattered surface hoar that formed overnight, but this was getting destroyed by the sun in the PM. We mostly skied the northern aspects above Canyon Creek and found 15-20 cm of powder on top of the same 6cm rain crust found earlier on southerly aspects.This made for mostly great skiing, but tough skinning because the crust was supportable.Setting the skin track was a challenge, with much side-slipping downhill.

 

LAYERS OF CONCERN?In the afternoon, I was most concerned with the newest (Monday’s) storm snow sitting on top of the rain crust.On southerly aspects this was sliding (see photos) easily, sometimes a few hundred feet and entraining enough snow to knock a person off their feet and/or injure them.These slides made heavy, wet debris.

 

RECENT AVALANCHE ACTIVITY/OBSERVATIONS: Several wet, loose snow avalanches on southerly aspects (photos).We saw the crown line on the large avalanche in Skook Chutes that crossed Canyon Creek Road on Sunday.We also saw another crown (photo) on a NW aspect on the peak directly east, across the creek from the area known as “Big Slide”.We assume this slid earlier in the week during the Sunday rain event.

 

STABILITY TEST?We released multiple dry, loose sluffs while skiing on the northerly aspects on slopes greater than 30°.We also ski triggered wet loose avalanches (D1) on southern aspects around 1-2 PM.

 

Avalanche Observations

NUM

SIZE

LOC

TRIGGER

 

TYPE

INC

ASP

ELEV

COMMENTS:

(Est. Depth, Width, Failure Layer, Timing)

12+

D1, R1-3

Half Moon Slide

Both N and AS

WL

30-45

S

5800-6000’

Natural and ski cut released wet snow sluffs.Top 15-20cm surface snow (wet) was sliding easily on the last Sunday’s rain crust.

 

See photo.

1

D2?/ R??

Slope to the east, across creek from “Big Slide”

Unknown, assume natural

slab

?

NW

~6000’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wet loose avalanche in Half Moon, Whitefish Range. 3/12/2014.

Wet loose avalanche in Half Moon, Whitefish Range. 3/12/2014.

 

Wet loose avalanche in Half Moon, Whitefish Range. 3/12/2014.

Wet loose avalanche in Half Moon, Whitefish Range. 3/12/2014.

 

Crown of natural avalanche from last week on a NW aspect east of Big Slide, Whitefish Range. 3/12/2014.

Crown of natural avalanche from last week on a NW aspect east of Big Slide, Whitefish Range. 3/12/2014.