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East Slopes North - Canadian Border to Lake Chelan

Issued: 6:20 PM PST Saturday, December 30, 2017
by Kenny Kramer

NWAC avalanche forecasts apply to backcountry avalanche terrain in the Olympics, Washington Cascades and Mt Hood area. These forecasts do not apply to developed ski areas, avalanche terrain affecting highways and higher terrain on the volcanic peaks above the Cascade crest level.

Significant new snow and strong winds over the last several days continue to warrant patience and conservative terrain use. The snowpack is slowing gaining strength, but caution should be taken before stepping into larger terrain.

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Avalanche Problems for Sunday

Wind Slabi

Wind slabs can take up to a week to stabilize. They are confined to lee and cross-loaded terrain features and can be avoided by sticking to sheltered or wind scoured areas.

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Storm Slabsi

Storm slabs usually stabilize within a few days, and release at or below the trigger point. They exist throughout the terrain, and can be avoided by waiting for the storm snow to stabilize.

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Forecast for Sunday:

Cool and clear weather will continue to allow the upper snowpack to strengthen.

Wind slabs formed on Saturday will continue to be a problem Sunday. Look for areas of recently wind transported snow such as uneven snow surfaces, fresh cornices and snow drifts. Identify and avoid areas of wind loaded snow. Recent strong winds may have loaded slopes well below ridge crest. Pay attention to exposed terrain features even below tree line where wind slabs may have formed.

Wind slabs can be deceptively difficult to manage in the terrain. Take a moment and read our recent blog post by NWAC Pro Observer Jeremy Allyn on wind slabs.

While storm slabs are gaining strength, the amount of recent snow warrants caution before stepping into larger terrain. Time and patience will allow these layers to heal and the hazard to fall.

Sunshine on Sunday may produce small loose wet avalanches on steep sunny slopes especially near rock outcrops. Pay attention to new roller balls as these are a sign that loose wet avalanches could occur.

Despite recent snow, early season conditions still exist. Pay particular attention to open creeks that have not filled in for the season.

Avalanche Summary:

Saturday afternoon brings a close to a very active weather pattern.

Windy conditions Saturday redistributed much of the recent storm snow forming sensitive wind slabs on a variety of aspects.

In general 1 to 1.5 feet of new snow fell across the eastern slopes of the Cascades between Thursday and Saturday. Fluctuating temperatures during the storms created several layers within the new snow. Mild temperatures have allowed these instabilities to begin to gain strength.

Snow depth decreases substantially the further east of the Cascade crest one travels. In many areas below treeline, there is not enough snow to present an avalanche danger. 

Observations:

North:

The NCMG were in the Washington Pass area both Friday and Saturday. By Saturday, cooling and settlement allowed for a favorable stability trend. The sensitive storm slab layers and avalanches seen Friday were rapidly gaining strength and becoming less likely to trigger. 

Central:

Mission Ridge Pro Patrol reported very sensitive wind slabs observed around the area Saturday. A natural avalanche cycle was observed from Friday night. Avalanche control work within the ski area Saturday produces 1-4 ft wind slab avalanches.

On Friday, a public skier triggered a 16-18” wind slab in closed terrain on a NE aspect at approximately 6000’. The skier was not caught nor injured.

South:

No recent observations

No Corresponding Mountain Weather Forecast Available

USE AT YOUR OWN RISK

This Backcountry Avalanche Forecast is provided in conjunction with the US Forest Service, and is intended for personal and recreational purposes only. Safe backcountry travel requires preparation and planning, and this information may be used for planning purposes but does not provide all the information necessary for backcountry travel. Advanced avalanche education is strongly encouraged.

The user acknowledges that it is impossible to accurately predict natural events such as avalanches in every instance, and the accuracy or reliability of the data provided here is not guaranteed in any way. This forecast describes general avalanche conditions and local variations will always occur. This forecast expires 24 hours after the posted time unless noted otherwise.