Whitefish Range/Flathead Range 13,14 April 2013

From: Joe Grabowski
Date: April 13 & 14, 2013
Time: Middle of the day
Location: Whitefish Range & Flathead Range
Activity: Skiing

Snowpack Observations:
Ir is worthwhile to note that although the skiing is good the stability is not good. I toured the southern Whitefish Range on Saturday and the Flathead Range on Sunday. I am finding poor bonding between the storm snow (8″) and the sliding surface. Easy but resistant shears. On Sunday the top layer of the storm snow was becoming heavy and therefore inverted.

 

Skiumah 3/26/13

From: gary Ludwig 
Date: 3/26/2013
Time: 1:00pm
Location: Skiumah/Great Bear/Deerlick basins
Activity: Skiing

Snowpack Observations:
Snowpack observations:  Skied the north face Great Bear Ridge and Triangle Peak on Tuesday. Despite the recent warm-up, the north aspects were still cold with 1-2 feet of great powder snow all the way to the bottom.  There was a firm sun/rain crust underneath, but we did not notice its presence until about 300 feet above Deerlick creek.  The powder above 6000 feet did show some minor surface sloughing, but did not run far or propagate for any significant distance.  A surface hoar layer with 2-3mm crystals was present on the south and west facing slopes beginning at elevation 6500 feet.  All south and west facing slopes below 6500 feet were hard packed. The only recent avalanche activity observed was a few point releases on steeper slopes above Skiumah lake.

Shed 9, Middle Fork 3/26/13

BNSF RAILWAY AVALANCHE SAFETY

VOLUNTARY FIELD OBSERVATIONS

 Steiner

 3/26/13

Shed 9 SZ

GENERAL INFORMATION:

Toured up Shed 7 West avalanche path to the Shed 7 ridge and then west into the Shed 9 Starting zone. Ascent conditions were fair and travel was easy- with the use of ski crampons. Descent was fair as surface snow had warmed to moist/ wet consistency. Surface roughness increasing substantially at lower elevations. Vegetative and terrain hazards becoming more prevalent at snowpack surface.

WEATHER OBSERVATIONS:      Mostly clear skies today with a few scattered clouds.    Light west winds.      Air Ts on Canyon floor were in the lower 20s F in the AM and warmed into the mid-30s F by afternoon.  Air Ts at approximately 6000 feet during the afternoon hovered around 32 F.    Solar input significant today…SNOWPACK OBSERVATIONS: Full profile conducted in the starting zone of Shed 9 on a south/ southeast aspect (140 degrees) 30 degree slope at an elevation of 6800 feet (6800’). Snowpack depth 116 cm and moist in upper most layer and dry for remainder of snowpack. Significant Temperature gradient existed in the upper 16 cm of the snowpack.Upper and mid snowpack at this location was relatively supportive and consisted of rounded grains, a 10 cm melt/freeze crust, and decomposing facets- beneath the MF crust. No significant stability test results on these layers.Greatest concern at this location is related to depth hoar found in the lower 47 cm of this profile. This layer is 47 cm in height, 4F+ in hardness, comprised of 3mm depth hoar and is adjacent to a P hard ice crust/ lens. This layer/ layer interface was not reactive in ECT tests but failed with hard force Q2 shears in CT stability tests.*Please refer to attached Snow Profile.Similar to last week’s observation in the Shed 5 starting zone (March 19th, 2013) we feel the mid-pack at this location appears to be providing supportive structure to the snowpack.

AVALANCHE OBSERVATIONS:

One relatively small soft slab avalanche that had previously released was observed in the starting zone of Shed 9. Debris associated with this slab terminated in the upper 1/3 of the Shed 9 SZ.

 

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.

 

shed9_3_26_13

Shed 9 Start Zone 3_26_13

 Crystal_Grain_Symbols

Mount Shields 3/24/13

From: brett timm 
Date: 3-24-13
Time: 1400
Location: Mt Shields Glacier National Park
Activity: Skiing

Snowpack Observations:
Ski toured on and around Mt Shields on Sunday. Perfect sunny day with very little wind. 0 F at sunrise in East Glacier. 8 F when we left the vehicle at 1000 am at the Fielding Trialhead. Toured up ridge to sub Shields. Minimal surface hoar observed at lower elevations on skin up. Significant surface hoar observed on all aspects above 6,000 ft (3- 5mm). Sunny throughout day, would expect surface hoar broke down to some degree on southerly aspects. Temp highs in the low 20’s at 6,000 ft.

Dug a pit on North/Northeast aspect (23 degrees), 30 degree slope, 6800′. Surface hoar at pit location was 3-5mm and did not appear to be breaking down (cold temps). HS 280 cm’s. We dug down 150 cm. Located several ice crusts (melt freeze/rain) in the snowpack). Of note a .5 cm ice layer down 20cm, a 6cm ice layer down 60 cm’s, and a significant layer (3 mm) of graupel down 90 cm’s. Significant temp gradient in the top 10 cm’s.

Compression test results
CT 14, Q3 at 20 cm on small facets on top of ice crust
CT 19, Q3 at 20 cm
Stuff Block test results
SB10, Q3 at 20 cm

Of note we were able to get the graupel layer to pull out Q1 with more force after finishing CT tests.

Snow on ridge tops available for transport. If increasing winds before increasing temps watch for surface hoar to be buried on northerly aspects

 

Stanton Mountain 3/22/13

From: Erich Peitzsch 
Date: 3/22/2013
Location: Stanton Mountain
Activity: Skiing

Snowpack Observations:
Toured up Stanton Mountain in GNP today. Mostly sunny, calm wind with
moderate gusts along the ridges (17-25 mph).
Ski pen. = knee deep. Certainly a bit of wind loading with winds from
the west. We found about 3 inches of new snow at lower elevations
(~3500 feet) with up to 15 inches at upper elevations (7500 feet).
This new snow sits on top of a rain crust.
We experienced no collapsing or whumphing and saw minor,
very localized cracking of the top 12-15 inches.
We saw a few recent nantural sluffs on all aspects and one small
natural slab avalanche off the ridge between Stanton Mountain and
Mt. Vaught (see image).
There was lots of sun with minimal effect on south aspects today.
We were able to trigger two small sluffs that entrainted a decent
amount of snow and ran about 200 vertical feet.

We dug a snowpit on a south aspect at 7200 ft. It was relatively
shallow for this elevation with a total snowpack depth of 180 cm.
We found a a layer of facets on top of a crust about 75 cm from the
ground. This was our layer of concern given our stability tests.

For those so inclined, here are our stability test results:
CT 30 Q1 @ 75 cm from the ground x2
ECTN @ 35 cm from surface
StantonVaughtCrown_3_22_13

Shed 5, Middle Fork 3/19/13

 

3/19/2013

1730

SHED 5

STEINER

GENERAL INFORMATION:

Toured up the Shed 6/7 ridge to the starting zone of Shed 5. Travel conditions were fair on ascent and poor on descent… Breakable MF crust formed throughout the day and was prevalent on all but the most shaded aspects- which are difficult to find on a southerly aspect Program area.

WEATHER OBSERVATIONS:

Mostly clear skies today with a few scattered clouds.

• Light west winds in early afternoon- decreased after 1500.

• Air Ts on Canyon floor were in the lower 20s F in the AM and warmed into the mid-30s F by afternoon.

• Air Ts at approximately 6000 feet during the afternoon hovered around 30 F.

• Solar input significant today… Melt/ freeze crust established on all southerly and non-shaded easterly aspects.

 

SNOWPACK OBSERVATIONS: Full profile conducted in the starting zone of Shed 5 on a southeast aspect (110 degrees) 34 degree slope at an elevation of 5800 feet (5800’). Snowpack depth 98 cm and moist throughout. No significant Temperature gradients and not yet isothermal. Mid-pack is comprised of melt/freeze crusts and decomposing facets. No significant stability test results on these layers. Greatest concern at this location is related to depth hoar found in the lower 30 cm of the profile. This layer is 4F- in hardness and failed in both ECT stability tests conducted- WITH the entire back of the column cut out… ECTP15 and ECTP22. When an additional ECT was conducted, without cutting the column back wall into the depth hoar, we observed an ECTX on the depth hoar layer-upper snowpack interface.

Based on stability test results, the mid-pack appears to be providing supportive structure to the snowpack at this location. Also, based on these stability test results, we feel that IF the mid-pack support is rapidly compromised, the potential for full-depth avalanche activity exists.

AVALANCHE OBSERVATIONS: One small wet slab release on a low elevation (l4000’) northerly aspect cut bank of the Middle Fork Corridor. This avalanche occurred sometime yesterday afternoon. No other slab avalanche activity observed today. Wet loose surface snow activity was observed in many locations and all was relatively small in magnitude.

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 ADVISORY.

Paola Ridge 3/18/13

From: Michael Reavis
Date: 3/18
Time: 1000
Location: Middle Fork
Activity: Skiing
Snowpack Observations:
Toured up Paola Ridge yesterday. Travel conditions on ascent were moderate, descent conditions excellent. Temps ranged in the lower 20’s in the AM rising to upper 20’s in the PM. Winds were fairly calm all morning, becoming gusty and sporadic (10-20 mph) on the ridge tops as the day progressed. Cloud cover 100%, becoming scattered/broken in the PM, with consistent snow falling throughout the day (2-4 inches). We dug a pit on a SSE aspect at 6400ft. There was a approximately 45cm of new snow sitting atop a supportable MF(Melt Freeze) crust (5cm thick). Most of the snow beneath this MF layer (pencil hardness) was moist, saturated snow (fist hardness). A column test was conducted and we found a CTM14 @ 45cm Q3 (Compression Test-Moderate)/ CTM17 @ 85cm Q2 / CTH 26 @ 110cm Q2. No recent signs of avalanche activity, although visibility was poor. Minor sluffing on steeper aspects, but really no issue there.

Middle Fork 3/12/13

BNSF RAILWAY AVALANCHE SAFETY

VOLUNTARY FIELD OBSERVATIONS

 3/12/13

Burnout

Steiner

GENERAL INFORMATION:

Toured up the old Shed 4D (Burnout) avalanche path today to conduct field observations in the Burnout avalanche starting zone and in the starting zone of Shed 4. Travel conditions were fair on ascent and descent… Breakable MF crust in upper 25 cm above 5,400 feet and supportable MF crust below 5400 feet elevation…Moist surface snow at all elevations.

WEATHER OBSERVATIONS:

Overcast skies and light to moderate snow throughout the day- turning to rain just after we finished tour. Light west winds in AM and increased in intensity throughout the day.

Air Ts on Canyon floor were in the upper 20s F in the AM and warmed into the mid-30s F by afternoon.

Wind transport of available snow was occurring on EASTERLY aspects at elevations above 5,600 feet.

SNOWPACK OBSERVATIONS:

Test profiles conducted in bot h the Burnout and Shed 4 avalanche starting zones.

Burnout SZ:

5200’ elevation with a 38 degree slope and a south easterly aspect (130 degree azimuth).

 Time= 1155

 Air T= -1C

Snowdepth= 112 cm…Moist throughout.

Layer of concern= 51 cm from snowpack surface…Consisting of moist/ rounding grains beneath a moist decomposing 4 cm crust.

Stability Test Results: ECTP14 Q2 & ECTP13 Q2

Shed 4 SZ:

5800’ with a 35 degree slope and an easterly aspect (90 azimuth degrees).

 

 Time= 1330

 Air T= 0C

Snowdepth= 200 cm…Moist surface snow…Dry below 10 cm from snowpack surface.

Layer of concern at this profile location was located in the upper 25 cm and was interface between newly deposited snow and existing melt/freeze crust.

 Stability Test results= ECTP14 Q2.

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.

 

Werner Peak 3/11/13

From: Karl Crittenden
Date: 3/11/13
Time: 1200-1500 hrs
Location: Werner Peak
Activity: Snowmobiling

Snowpack Observations:
A scattering of observations from the Flathead National Forest Avalanche level 1 class:

Sunny to partly sunny skies with a light wind from the southwest. Temperatures around high 20s to low 30s. No signs of natural avalanche activity or instability.

The first series of pits were dug on ~36 deg. slope on a south/southwest aspect at 6476 ft. Roughly 15 cm of light snow on a rain crust failed almost immediately in tests (CT1Q2 and ECTP3). Subsequent, multiple, CT’s and ECT’s showed the snow pack prone to fracture with easy to moderate force but no propagation was experienced. 

The second set of snowpits were dug on a north/northeast aspect just east of Werner peak on the ridge ~1000 feet (linear) shy of the summit. Several ECT, CT, and a rutschblock test were done on a ~30 deg. slope on the leeward side of the ridge. ECT and CT results were variable, possibly due to cross loading and spatial variability. The rutshblock showed instability (RB3 MB {most of block}) at ~25 cm from the surface.

A snowmobile ride up and down, no turns were had, though skiing on north aspects looks to still be quality.