Observation – 3/18/2014 – Skookoleel Peak area, Whitefish Range

Location: West of Skookoleel, Creek 2, Shady Grove/Lakalaho

Activity: Skiing

 Snowpack Observations:

 

Skied several runs into Creek 2 on Tuesday without visual or auditory alarms. Today went to 6,745, down to the Lakalaho pond, back to 6,745, and down Shady Grove, west of the Skook ridge. Some sloughing on cutbanks above old roads near the Big Cr/Canyon Cr saddle but no other activity. I dug down to the 3/9/14 ice layer coming out of Lakalaho at 6,200 ft on a north face. 25″ on the ice layer and another subtle layer 10″ from the surface. The ice layer is 2″ thick {measured}. That said there was no visual or auditory alarms there either. I even dropped a very large tree bomb on a convex area and nothing happened. Descending Shady Grove made the 10″ layer more noticeable especially below 5,800 ft causing me to believe it to be a sun crust. The skiing was delightful on lower angle slopes. I did not venture greater than 30 degrees. Travel was boot top deep.

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.

 

Observation – 3/12/2014 – Skookoleel Peak area, Whitefish Range

Location: West of Skookoleel, Shady Grove, Lakalaho

Activity: Skiing

Snowpack Observations:

Toured to 6,745 west of the Skook ridge, descended to the Lakalaho pond, climbed back to 6,745 and descended Shady Grove. About 4″ of new, dry snow on an ice crust. The crust was 2 ” thick and firm and was present on all aspects and elevations that I skied. I had to stomp it with my boot to break it. Shaded snow was dry, any snow exposed to the sun was either zipper crust {above 6,000 ft} or mush {below 5,800 ft}. The shaded snow was pleasant skiing. I saw no avalanche activity. Side hill climbing was difficult because the new snow sloughed easily. I would have used ski crampons if I would have remembered to bring them.

 

Observation – 3/11/2014 – John F. Stevens Canyon

 

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:

3/11/2014

        1800

Shed 11

3/11/2014

Dundas

GENERAL INFORMATION:

The focus of today’s tour was to evaluate snowpack structure and conduct snow profile/ stability observations at a high-elevation starting zone.  We also needed to perform a maintenance check on the Shed 11 weather station.  We toured up the Shed 10. 7/11 ridge to access the weather station and our pit location.  T rail breaking was a bit slow due to heavy wet surface snow at all elevations.  The canyon floor received 4” and the upper elevations received 8” during Monday’s storm.  This snow was deposited warm and wet and became denser as the day progressed due to warm air temps and significant solar input.  There was occasional cracking underneath our skis but no shooting cracks or audible failures observed.  The downhill skiing portion of our tour was difficult due to heavy wet surface snow and an unsupportable snowpack.

WEATHER OBSERVATIONS:

Mostly sunny skies with calm to light west winds and air temperatures reaching 40 F at the Canyon floor and 32 F at our profile location~ located at 6,441 feet elevation.  There was no wind transport occurring during our tour. 

SNOWPACK OBSERVATIONS:

Conducted a full profile on a 35 degree southeast aspect (1460) at the top of the starting zone of Shed 11 (6,441 ft). Profile was 166 cm in height.

 

  • The upper 20 cm of this profile was recent snow that averaged 4F in hardness.  This sat on top of a 10cm 1F- hard melt freeze crust.  This crust was formed from the recent high elevation rain event.   

 

  • Below the crust a series of thin crusts sandwiched by rounds or mixed forms made up the next 58 cm.  None of these layers were reactive in our stability tests.

 

  • The lower 78cm of the pack was our weakest and most concerning.  A 19 cm layer of 4F hard mixed forms sat on top of a 9cm melt freeze crust.  Below the crust was a 50 cm layer of F+ hard depth hoar.

This crust was formed from an extended high pressure event in mid to late January.  The weak mixed forms were formed during a cold snap in early February.   This crust & overlying weak snow are the basis for the Persistent Slab problem that has plagued our region for the past 6 weeks.  This layer of mixed forms and crust were our greatest layer of concern in this profile

 

  • Stability Tests:                                                                                                                                          

ECTP 20 & 21 Q1@ 59.  This was on top of the crust at the base of the mixed forms.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

 

  • This snowpack was ISOTHERMAL AND MOIST THROUGHOUT! 

AVALANCHE OBSERVATIONS:

Numerous wet loose activity observed today at all elevations.  This mostly involved the storm snow from Monday being subjected to warm air temps and significant solar input.  No slab avalanche activity was observed in the program area today.

 

 

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. 

 

Shed 11 snow profile. 3/11/2014

Shed 11 snow profile.
3/11/2014

 

 

 

Observation – 3/8/2014 – Canyon Creek, Whitefish Range

Observer: Pete Costain
Date: 3/8/2014
Activity: Skiing

Dug a couple pits on NNW aspect @ 6000 ft elevation, one 25 degree slope and one 38-40 degree slope. Here’s the beta on the steeper one. Dug past the January faceted crust mess at 160 cm to a total of 180cm depth. Soft slab storm layer 10-15cm down mildly reactive on some graupel. Then two layers of concern: a 4 finger storm slab 40 cm down that was ECTN but CT16 Q1 and then at 60-70 cm down another layer (probably beginning of this latest storm) that was also ECTN but CT 18 Q1. Way down at 160 cm is the biggest concern with the old facets and crusts dissipating but still super obvious. ECTN but CT 25 or so. I jumped hard above the steeper pit afterwards and was able to get the 40 cm layer to break off and step down to the 60 cm layer. Generally north slopes seem to be pretty glued together with no results on the ECTs but if something were to happen it could be big. I guess we know we will be in a low prob / high consequence scene for a while. Skiing was pretty good with Friday night’s cooler temps drying out the stiff storm surface snow. Surfy and fast turns. Looking at Skook across the canyon there didn’t appear to be any natural releases today.

Observation – 3/6/2014 – Goat Lick Area, Flathead Range

Photos of natural avalanche activity yesterday (3/6/2014) in the Goat Lick area in the Flathead Range. Photos courtesy of Randall Powell.

Large natural avalanche in Goat Lick area, Flathead Range. Photo: Randall Powell 3/6/2014

Large natural avalanche in Goat Lick area, Flathead Range. Photo: Randall Powell 3/6/2014

Goat Lick Area Avalanche

 

 

Large natural avalanche in Goat Lick area, Flathead Range. Photo: Randall Powell 3/6/2014

Large natural avalanche in Goat Lick area, Flathead Range. Photo: Randall Powell 3/6/2014

 

Large natural avalanche in Goat Lick area, Flathead Range. Photo: Randall Powell 3/6/2014

Large natural avalanche in Goat Lick area, Flathead Range. Photo: Randall Powell 3/6/2014

 

Large natural avalanche in Goat Lick area, Flathead Range. Photo: Randall Powell 3/6/2014

Large natural avalanche in Goat Lick area, Flathead Range. Photo: Randall Powell 3/6/2014

 

Large natural avalanche in Goat Lick area, Flathead Range. Photo: Randall Powell 3/6/2014

Large natural avalanche in Goat Lick area, Flathead Range. Photo: Randall Powell 3/6/2014

 

Large natural avalanche in Goat Lick area, Flathead Range. Photo: Randall Powell 3/6/2014

Large natural avalanche in Goat Lick area, Flathead Range. Photo: Randall Powell 3/6/2014

 

Large natural avalanche east of Goat Lick area, Flathead Range. Photo: Randall Powell 3/6/2014

Large natural avalanche east of Goat Lick area, Flathead Range. Photo: Randall Powell 3/6/2014

 

Large natural avalanche east of Goat Lick area, Flathead Range. Photo: Randall Powell 3/6/2014

Large natural avalanche east of Goat Lick area, Flathead Range. Photo: Randall Powell 3/6/2014

 

Large natural avalanche east of Goat Lick area, Flathead Range. Photo: Randall Powell 3/6/2014

Large natural avalanche east of Goat Lick area, Flathead Range. Photo: Randall Powell 3/6/2014

 

Large natural avalanche east of Goat Lick area, Flathead Range. Photo: Randall Powell 3/6/2014

Large natural avalanche east of Goat Lick area, Flathead Range. Photo: Randall Powell 3/6/2014

 

Observation – 3/2/2014 – John F Stevens Canyon/Pinnacle/Paola

 

FLATHEAD AVALANCHE CENTER

Observer Information

 

Date: Sun Mar 2

Time:All Day

Name: Brad Lamson

 

DAILY FIELD WEATHER SUMMARY

 

ZONE: John F Stevens Canyon/Pinnicle-Paola

MT RANGE: Flathead

ELEV. RANGE:3500’ – 6500’

 

SKY

PRECIP

Type/Rate

Temperature

RIDGETOP WIND (mph) (actual or est)

HN24  est @ Elev.

HS est @ Elev.

Trailbreaking/Riding Conditons

Skiing/Riding Quality

AM

PM

AM

PM

Hi

Low

Speed

Dir

6” Night of 3/1

5” additi- onal on 3/2

N/A

 Good, up to 20’ ski pen.

 Excellent

Overcast

Overcast

S2

S5

20F

-8F

Calm-Light

East in the AM

 

Southerly late afternoon

                               

 

Weather Comments

q  SKY: Cloud cover, Trend, Timing     Overcast all day.

 

q  PRECIP: Type/rate, Accumulation     S1 in the AM increasing by late afternoon too S5

 

q  WIND: speed/direction/blowing snow     Calm to Light, Easterly in the AM, moving around to the South/South West by late afternoon

 

SNOWPACK AND AVALANCHE FACTORS

q  SNOW SURFACE: (crusts, soft snow, hard snow, dry, wet, sfc hoar)  New soft powder snow!

 

q  LAYERS OF CONCERN?  Nothing currently, where we skied.  The new snow was exhibiting soft slab characteristics.  Shooting cracks while skiing and breaking trail.  The new 10” over the past 24 hours was denser than the last round of precipitation from the last storm that was exposed to the single digit and negative temps.  Could create problems with additional snow.

 

q  RECENT AVALANCHE ACTIVITY/OBSERVATIONS Couldn’t see anything.  We did experience sloughing on steeper pitches that ran quite far.  This happened at all elevations, but was a bit more prevalent below 5500’.

 

q  STABILITY TEST? No

 

 

q  COMMENTS:  We skied Easterly aspects. Great powder conditions from 3500’ – 6500’ with light wind accompanying the storm. We started out with temps in the -8F range and above 6000’ we popped into the warm front over riding the cold air and the temperature jumped up to 20F, went from breaking trail in a puffy to sweating profusely.   Still in the single digits at the end of the day. 

 

q  Don’t forget to attend the FAC Community Avalanche Awareness event on March 6, at the Moose Lodge.  See the FAC event calendar for more info.

 

Density layer change at 8 inches - storm slab copy

Density layer change at 8 inches . Photo: Lamson 3/2/2014

 

Late afternoon increasing snow copy

Late afternoon increasing snow. Photo: Lamson 3/2/2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avalanche Observations        None

NUM

SIZE

LOC

TRIGGER

 

TYPE

INC

ASP

ELEV

COMMENTS:

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