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Olympics

Issued: 7:11 PM PST Sunday, February 4, 2018
by Dennis D'Amico

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. 

Slowly lowering freezing levels and light amounts of new snowfall will decrease the avalanche danger Monday in the Hurricane Ridge area. The upper snowpack will begin refreezing Monday, but loose wet avalanches are possible to trigger on steep slopes with wet surface snow, especially in the morning. Avoid slopes where avalanches may carry you into terrain traps.

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Avalanche Problems for Monday

Loose Weti

Loose wet avalanches occur where water is running through the snowpack, and release at or below the trigger point. Avoid terrain traps such as cliffs, gullies, or tree wells. Exit avalanche terrain when you see pinwheels, roller balls, a slushy surface, or during rain-on-snow events.

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Avalanche Summary:

Light rain was seen Saturday afternoon through Sunday morning along with mild temperatures caused wet surface snow conditions over the weekend. Significant snowpack settlement continues to occur in the Hurricane Ridge area with the recent warm and wet weather. On Friday, several natural wet loose avalanches were observed at all elevations.

Large cornices developed during the last two weeks of January along ridgelines near and above treeline.

The recent warm and wet weather has produced glide cracks on slopes with smooth ground surfaces. Observations indicate glide cracks in common locations such as 20th of June, Steeple, and the Steep-and-Icy avalanche paths.

Observations

NWAC pro-observer Matt Schonwald and NPS Rangers traveled in the Mt Angeles areas Friday. They observed moist to wet surface snow up to 6000 feet. Wet loose avalanches were seen releasing during sunny breaks around mid-day. They identified and avoided traveling near or below large cornices.

Forecast for Monday:

Slowly lowering freezing levels and light amounts of new snowfall will decrease the avalanche danger Monday in the Hurricane Ridge area. The wet upper snowpack will begin refreezing Monday, but loose wet avalanches are possible to trigger on steep slopes with wet surface snow, especially in the morning. Avoid slopes where avalanches may carry you into dangerous terrain such as over a cliff, into a creek, or down a gully. 

Large cornices exists primarily on NW-NE aspects along ridgelines in the Hurricane Ridge area. Recent mild air temperatures and rain have made these massive blocks of snow more likely to fail. Cooling temperatures will make cornice failure less likely, but continue to give cornices a wide berth and avoid travel directly below corniced slopes.

Several glide cracks have been reported recently by NPS rangers. Glide avalanches occur in locations where wet smooth ground surfaces allow the entire snowpack to avalanche. Glide avalanches are highly unpredictable and as their releases generally are not tied to peak warming or rainfall. If you see glide cracks on a slope, avoid traveling on or below that terrain. While you are unlikely to trigger a glide avalanche, a glide avalanche would be large and deadly.

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.