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West Slopes North - Canadian Border to Skagit River

Issued: 6:26 PM PST Thursday, February 8, 2018
by Josh Hirshberg

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. 

You can trigger Wind Slabs above treeline. Avoid stiff supportive pillows of snow and cross-loaded features on slopes 35 degrees and steeper. Strong and gusty winds may have formed Wind Slabs lower on slopes than where they typically form or in unique locations.

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Avalanche Problems for Friday

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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Avalanche Summary:

No avalanches have been reported in the past 24 hours. The most recently observed avalanche activity includes small Loose Wet avalanches around the West Slopes on Wednesday, shallow triggered Wind Slabs, and large Glide avalanches running on the 3rd and 4th. While we're still keeping an eye on some deeply buried crusts, there are no known Persistent Weak Layers in this zone.

Freezing levels are anticipated to drop  to the valleys Thursday night. Light rain fell to upper elevations on Wednesday and Thursday with freezing levels reaching up to 5,000ft. Strong and gusty winds formed Wind Slabs above treeline on Tuesday through Thursday.

Observations

North

On Wednesday, NWAC Pro Observer Lee Lazzara was touring around Table Mountain. He found 2-6" of recent snow now moist on the surface above a mostly strong snowpack with no lingering instabilities. He saw lots of glide cracks which could be dangerous, particularly if covered by fresh snowfall in the future.

Mt. Baker Pro Patrol reported glide cracks were in the inbounds terrain on Tuesday. On Wednesday, they saw no natural wet activity and ski patrol was able to trigger one small Wind Slab avalanche.

Forecast for Friday:

You can trigger recently formed Wind Slabs at upper elevations. You can stay safe by avoiding obviously wind loaded features. Cracking in the snow, stiff, supportive surfaces, and wind sculpted features are all indicators that you should avoid that piece of terrain. Very strong and gusty winds may have formed slabs where you would not normally see them. Use caution in areas that could be cross-loaded mid-slope.

Near and below treeeline, avalanches are unlikely, though not impossible. Continue to use normal caution. Always carry a beacon, shovel, and probe and use travel practices that minimize your exposure to avalanche terrain. Stay out from under slopes where other parties may be traveling on wind exposed higher elevation slopes

There are some remaining considerations to stay safe in the mountains. While Glide avalanches are unlikely, they can be dangerously large and difficult to predict. It’s worth giving these avalanches a little more time before we forget about them. Avoid stopping under slopes with steep rock slabs that are still holding snow. Avoid traveling near glide cracks as they can be dangerous if you fall in them. Many lower elevation slopes may be firm and icy. A slip and fall in steep terrain above rocks or cliffs could be dangerous.

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.