South Dickey Creek 3/9/13

From: David Boye
Date: 3-9-13
Time: 12 noon
Location: NRC Gullies – S Dickey Creek
Activity: Skiing
Snowpack Observations:Skied NRC Gullies today.. good powder snow on the N aspect from 7000’+ … down to the valley floor. 1-2 feet of nice powder on top of a firm layer of snow (rain crust?) that seems to bridge the entire slope, and that crust layer under the new powder was not penetrated while skiing and seemed fairly solid. The new powder did sluff in several places, occasionally in small slabs that were easy to ski through, but almost a concern a few times. Although this top layer did not propagate as a large slab in any significant fashion, it is not yet bonded to the crust below and likes to move. Something to watch for if new snow arrives in the future. We skied near trees, and noticed that in “open areas” exposed to wind, larger slabs appear likely to slide and we saw a couple natural slab slide paths that had come down within the last day or so on more open N aspects, but we could not confirm how these were triggered.

No formal pits were dug or tests performed.

South aspects have slid in the area due to afternoon sun on rocks, and most open alpine is crusty from recent wind, sun, etc. North aspects skied wonderfully!

South_Dickey_Creek_3_9_13

Shed 11, Middle Fork 3/7/13

BNSF RAILWAY AVALANCHE SAFETY

VOLUNTARY FIELD OBSERVATIONS

 3/7/13- 1600- Steiner

GENERAL INFORMATION:

Toured up the Shed 10.7/ Shed 11 ridge to an elevation of 6,300 feet. Ski ascent conditions were challenging with approximately 10 cm of moist snow on a supportable melt-freeze crust.

Ski conditions on descent were fair due to heavy snow and a punchy crust that was marginally supportive.

 

WEATHER OBSERVATIONS:

-Overcast skies and light snow throughout the morning and early afternoon.

-Light west winds below 5,800 feet elevation and moderate west winds above 5,800.

-Air Ts on Canyon floor were in the low 30s F and at 6,300 feet upper 20s F.

-Wind transport of available snow was occurring on EASTERLY aspects.

Later in the afternoon, sky cover became broken and winds were decreasing in intensity.

SNOWPACK OBSERVATIONS:

Profile conducted on a 38 degree southeast aspect (105 degrees) at 6,300 feet elevation.

Snow depth was 195 cm and dry throughout except the very bottom was moist. There was no significant temperature gradient throughout the snowpack.

Aside from precipitation particles located within the upper 16 cm of the snowpack, the profile snowpack consisted mainly of alternating layers of decomposing facets and decomposing crusts.

LAYER OF GREATEST CONCERN was located 65 cm from the snowpack surface and consisted of…. 0.25 mm decomposing facets on a decomposing crust. On this layer, ECT stability test results were ECTP22 and ECTP23, both Q2. A secondary layer of concern was located 130 cm from the surface and Deep Tap Tests on this layer resulted in DTT25 and DTT 27, both Q1.

AVALANCHE OBSERVATIONS:

No natural slab avalanche activity observed. Numerous relatively small soft slab avalanches were triggered intentionally utilizing ski cuts. Most of these were triggered above 5,800 feet elevation on easterly aspects. Greatest crown depth of these avalanches was 25 cm and average crown length 20 meters. Debris terminated in the path running a maximum of 70 vertical meters.

 

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 3/5/13

Werner Peak/3/5/13-Seth Carbonari

Travel up to Werner Peak this afternoon.  Temperatures in the high 20’s with clear skies turning mostly cloudy by afternoon.  Light winds from the southwest.  No signs of instability or natural avalanches.

Dug a quick pit on a South Aspect at approx. 6700 feet.  ~36 degree slope.

~15cm of new snow on top of a fairly weak crust and then another 35cm of snow to a stronger crust ~50cm down with some small facets on top of it.  

ECTP 27 @ 50 cm down and an ECTP 30 @ 50cm down.  Failed on the small facet layer above the crust.  Column came off with some energy, but took a lot of stress to get it to do so.

Middle Fork 3/5/13

BNSF RAILWAY AVALANCHE SAFETY VOLUNTARY FIELD OBSERVATIONS

 

       

3/5/2013

1600

US HIGHWAY 2

 

STEINER

WEATHER OBSERVATIONS:

Beautiful day for avalanche hunting today… Visibility unlimited, few clouds, no precipitation, Canyon floor air temperatures in the teens, and calm winds. Three (3) to six (6) cm new snowfall at Canyon floor elevations in the past 48 hours.

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SNOWPACK OBSERVATIONS:

No snowpack observations conducted today.

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AVALANCHE OBSERVATIONS:

Multiple soft slab releases on terrain above 5,500 feet (1667 meters) elevation. Evidence of soft slab activity was observed on the ridge between Elk Mountain and Little Dog in Glacier National Park, in the upper starting zone of Shed 9~GNP, and in the Sheep Creek drainage (Northeast aspect of Mount Cameahwait~ Flathead Range).

Slab avalanche activity observed is suspected of occurring between 3/1 and 3/2/2013 and occurred mainly on unconfined, open sloped terrain with southeasterly to northeasterly aspects.

Crown depth and specific avalanche size was difficult to estimate due to viewing distance and recent wind loading. However, an approximate size range would be between D2 and D3. All avalanches observed appeared to be naturally triggered and large enough to kill a human.

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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.

GENERAL INFORMATION:

Vehicle based Canyon floor observations today. Focus was to observe the spatial extent, avalanche character, and terrain involved with the 3/2/2013 avalanche cycle.

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Mount Cameahwait

North Fork 3/3/13

Seth Carbonari

3/2/13 and 3/3/13

Apgar Range and Hornet Mountain

Observed a few recent wet snow slides driving up the North Fork on Saturday around midday.  All on a Southwest aspect along the Apgar Range.  Relatively small amounts of snow mostly running down the narrow chute bottoms, however some did make it down to the valley floor.

Apgarrange_3_2_13_c

Apgar Range 3/2/13

 

Dug a quick pit about 5700 feet up Hornet Mountain on a Southeast aspect on Sunday the 3rd (1300).  The saturated layer of snow that was on the surface Friday/Saturday was buried below about 5 inches of new snow that contained a couple of layers of graupel.  Since the surface snow was still saturated from the day before, the new snow had bonded with it very well.  I expect that saturated snow layer that was about 3 inches thick probably froze later in the day due to the dropping temperatures.  No results on Extended Column Tests and only the new snow was at all reactive on the Compression Tests.

The new snow sluffed fairly easily with the graupel layers, but no slabbing where we were and no other signs of instability.

Southern Whitefish Divide 3/2/2013

Date: 2/3/2012 by Erich Peitzsch

Time:

Location: Southern Whitefish Range

Activity:

 

Snowpack Observations:

Toured around the Southern Whitefish Range near Whitefish Mountain Resort with the Big Mountain Ski Patrol, Inc. Level 2 Avalanche Course the past two days.  We toured and investigated all aspects from 4500 feet to over 6800 feet elevation. Good visibility allowed for us to see small rollerballs and small loose wet avalanche activity from yesterday (3/1). We did not experience any cracking or collapsing throughout the day.Though we were able to trigger small wet loose sluffs late in the day on steep test slopes.  Our snowpits in most locations revealed a layer of graupel mixed with rounding facets about 20-30 cm down from the snow surface.  This layer typically failed with moderate to hard force in compression tests, but did not illustrate the propensity to propagate a fracture (crack) during our fracture propagation tests (like the Extended Column Test and the Propagations Saw Test).  We also found a thin rain crust about 5 cm down from the surface at all elevations. At lower elevations (below 5200 feet) part of the group observed free water moving through the upper portion of the snowpack today.

 

Students and instructors alike were excited when we got to investigate an avalanche crown in the Seven Sisters (Skook Chutes) area (see photo). Again, good visibility today allowed us to see two avalanche crowns in this area from the Ghoulie Point area in the morning. Once we made our way to the crown we speculated the avalanche occurred within the past 4 days. It was fresh enough to see with only a few cm of new snow filling it in thus far. This avalanche failed on a layer of rounding facets on top of a melt-freeze crust about 70 cm down from the snow surface. This slide occurred on a SSW aspect with a slope angle ranging from 35-41 degrees. It was about 60 meters wide and the crown was about 70 cm deep. It was difficult to assess the destructive size as we did not see where the debris terminated down the slope. Not sure if it hit the Canyon Creek road or not as we did not travel on the road in the upper portion of the canyon.

 

Overall, the top 15-25 cm were quite heavy and moist at all elevations leaving a little to be desired in terms of skiing conditions. SW winds increased throughout the day but not a whole lot of snow transport observed.

Cascadilla and Rescue Natural Avalanche Activity

Recent Natural Avalanche Activity

Observation from Cascadilla & Rescue Drainages
3/2/2013
1500

Ted Steiner

Observed recent natural slab avalanche activity that initiated off the northerly aspect of Nyack Mountain in the Middle Fork.  These avalanches appear to have been initiated by a cornice fall and lower avalanche activity appears the have initiated sympathetically. One avalanche terminated in the Cascadilla drainage and the other in the Rescue Creek drainage.  The Cascadilla avalanche occurred on a north aspect and the Rescue Creek avalanche on a north aspect. Both avalanches appear to have been triggered near the ridgeline. 

 Cascadilla Avalanche:

Approximate crown length: 200 meters+ and approximate crown depth: 90 cm+

 Rescue Creek Avalanche:

Approximate crown length: 40 meters and approximate crown depth: 90 cm.

 *Both of these were viewed from US Highway 2- so all measurements are approximate. 

 Photos were attempted but weather moved in and obscured view of the avalanche activity.

.Cascadilla Avalanche and Windloading (2)

Cascadilla Avalanche (2)

Cascadilla Avalanche

Shed 7 East, Middle Fork 2/26/13

BNSF RAILWAY AVALANCHE SAFETY VOLUNTARY FIELD OBSERVATIONS
SHED 7 East
2/26/2013
STEINER

GENERAL INFORMATION:
Toured into the starting zone of Shed 7 East today. Surface snow conditions were scoured on westerly and southerly exposures above 5200 feet elevation. No shooting cracks, collapsing, or audible failures. Travel conditions were good on ascent and descent. * Windloading has been substantial above 5,400 feet elevation in the past few weeks on easterly aspects in the Program area… Terrain features normally recognizable in starting zone locations have been buried or filled in. In numerous locations, surface snowpack slope angle in starting zone locations have been reduced appreciably and in some locations, cornices have grown impressively large (Please refer to attached photo).

WEATHER OBSERVATIONS:
Below 5,200 feet elevation, air temperatures averaged in the low 30s F and above 6,000 feet averaged in the lower 20s F. Light to moderate west winds at elevations above 5,400 feet. Wind loading occurring on easterly aspects. Intermittent snowfall throughout the day with no measurable accumulation.

SNOWPACK OBSERVATIONS:
Snow profile was conducted in the starting zone of Shed 7 East on a 32 degree, south easterly aspect (120 degrees). Profile location was at 6323 feet elevation.
Snowpack was dry throughout with a depth of126 cm and no significant T gradient. However, a significant temperature gradient was observed between the air T (-6.7 degrees C) and the snowpack surface (-5.3 degrees C).
Profile Layers:
126-116 New Snow .50mm
116-90 Rounds. .50 mm
90-81 Decomposing Facets. .50 mm. CT12 Q1 CT8 Q1 & ECTN

81-15 Rounds 0.75 mm

15-0 Depth Hoar 2.00 mm CT19 Q2- & ECTP 27/ ECTN

As noted, we did get propagation in an ECT in the basal depth hoar… Actually, we are unsure if this was propagation or collapse… Either way, the depth hoar interface is currently well supported by a thick slab of rounds immediately above it. From a Program perspective, the depth hoar layer interface provided the greatest level of interest/ concern for this profile location. From a backcountry touring perspective, the 90 to 81 layer was of greatest concern and likely involved with the intentionally triggered avalanche we initiated (read below).

AVALANCHE OBSERVATIONS:
Intentionally triggered soft slab (SS-ASc-R2D1-I) in Test Slope 2 on a 40 degree southeasterly exposure at approximately 5,600 feet (1697 m) elevation. This released on the interface between newly wind loaded snow and the old snow surface beneath it. Slab thickness averaged 30 cm and width was approximately 20 m. Debris ran full path of test slope.
No natural avalanche activity observed.

BNSF AVALANCHE SAFETY FIELD OBSERVATIONS SUBMITTED TO THE 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.

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Flathead Range 2/23/13

From: Bradley Lamson
Date: Saturday February 23
Time: All day.
Location: Flathead Range
Activity: Skiing

Snowpack Observations:
Hey there,

Just a quick heads on the conditions in the Middle Fork corridor.

Poked around and skied East, South and Southwest aspects, great skiing from 7000′ to the valley bottoms.  Winds were strong from the West generally in the AM and becoming calm in the afternoon.  Some heavy flurries moved through on occasion.

New snow over the past week ranged from 60 to 100 cms, depending on the aspect, elevation, which way the wind was blowing and at what speed.  In some spots the new storm snow was overlying an obvious layer of graupel. Other than that we found some instabilities in the upper 30 cms that were associated with density changes in the new snow.  We did get one small soft slab, 30cm to release on a small south facing terrain feature, down at 5000′ on a crust that ran for a ways.

Big shout out to the sun today, great to see you, but not really.  Take into mind the warming temps(rapid today), new snow accumulations and the wind associated with the last round of snow.

More on conditions:  https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.554336851256763.128593.191983617492090&type=1

Enjoy, Brad

 

Autumn Creek 2/22/13

From: Greg Fortin
Date: 2/22/13
Time: 14:00
Location: Autumn Creek / Firebrand Area
Activity: Skiing

Snowpack Observations:
Marias Pass and points east saw intense sustained winds yesterday with lots of transport. Sustained 70 mph winds with gusts even higher. No observed avalanche activity, however cross loading, transport and wind slab formation was observed. Snow was becoming rigid, shooting cracks, and hollow snow pack was noted in the lower elevations. Trees were holding soft snow very nicely and the lower angle slopes were fantastic. Boot penetrations up to 30cm. Caution advised for higher elevations and exposed slopes. Will post additional observations on Wed 2/27/13 for higher elevation