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Olympics

Issued: 7:58 PM PST Monday, February 5, 2018
by Robert Hahn

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. 

A melt-freeze cycle is anticipated on Tuesday with benign weather, but continue to travel with attention to your surroundings. Loose wet avalanches are possible to trigger on steep slopes with wet surface snow, especially in the morning. Avoid travel beneath corniced slopes, under rock faces where glide cracks may exist, or where avalanches may carry you into terrain traps.

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Avalanche Problems for Tuesday

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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Forecast for Tuesday:

The Hurricane Ridge area will see modest warming, but increasing cloudiness throughout the day.

Small loose wet avalanches are possible on solar slopes on Tuesday. Sunshine during the morning will make them more likely, while cloud cover during the afternoon will reduce the hazard.

Large cornices exists primarily on NW-SE 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 Monday will make cornice failure less likely, but some warming on Tuesday will increase the likelihood of failure, so 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. With limited rain at Hurricane Ridge, the probability on Tuesday is quite low, but continue to travel around open cracks and rock faces with caution.

Avalanche Summary:

Fair weather has returned to hurricane ridge, with cooling to slightly below freezing with diurnal warming to slightly above freezing. A melt-freeze cycle is likely to be seen with the surface snow conditions. 

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.

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.