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Stevens Pass

Issued: 6:03 AM PST Friday, March 2, 2018
by Josh Hirshberg

While the Avalanche Danger is slowly decreasing, dangerous conditions remain at upper elevations. You can trigger Wind Slabs near and above treeline and Persistent Slab avalanches on sunny slopes in the upper snowpack. Avoid wind loaded areas and large open sun-exposed slopes 35 degrees and steeper. 

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  • No Rating (Info Avail)
  • Low (1)
  • Moderate (2)
  • Considerable (3)
  • High (4)
  • Extreme (5)

Avalanche Problems for Friday

Wind Slabi

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Persistent Slabi

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Forecast for Friday:

You can trigger Wind Slab avalanches at upper elevations. Today, you are most likely to trigger them above treeline. You can avoid these avalanches by staying off of recent snow drifts, deeply pillowed features, and fresh cornices on slopes 35 degrees and steeper. In some location soft non-wind-effected snow may cover new wind slabs making them harder to identify. These areas may exist far below ridge-lines and on mid-slope cross-loaded features.

You can trigger Persistent Slab avalanches in the upper snowpack on sun-exposed slopes greater than 35 degrees. Avoid steep, open, sunny slopes as well as large avalanche paths to reduce your risk of these difficult to manage avalanches. A series of thin sun crusts surrounded by very small facets has been observed in the Cascade Passes. These layers have been the source of several avalanches earlier this week. Snow profiles and snowpack test can confirm the presence of this layer; however they cannot prove its absences.

There is still a potential for a Deep Persistent Slab avalanche to occur. Avalanches triggered in the surface snow could step down to release a large and dangerous avalanche in deeper layers in the snowpack. These avalanches are becoming increasingly difficult to trigger. The best way to avoid this low likelihood-high consequence problem is by avoiding triggering smaller avalanches in the surface snow. You may see some small loose avalanches release on the surface of steep slopes today. 

Avalanche Summary:

Winds as recent as Wednesday night formed new wind slabs on a variety of aspects near and above treeline. In sheltered areas generally soft unconsolidated surface snow exists.

On E-S-W aspect, a thin breakable sun crust formed early last week and was buried on 2/23. Very small weak facets have been reported surrounding the crust. This was the weak layer found or suspected in several avalanches 1.5-3 feet deep. This layer has not yet had significant time to heal. It is found 2-3 feet below the surface on steeper slopes that have received direct sun during the past week.

Some observations suggest other persistent grains at this same interface on shaded slopes. Buried surface hoar and large preserved stellars have been reported in recent avalanches and snowpack tests at this interface.

Avalanche and snowpack observations continue to indicate that avalanches are possible on a layer of weak sugary facets buried on 2/13. This weak layer is generally 3 to five feet below the snow surface just above a very firm melt-freeze crust (2/8).

There are no significant layers of concern below the 2/8 crust.

Observations

NWAC forecaster Josh Hirshberg was on Nason Ridge Wednesday. He found the 2/23 crust 1.5 feet below the snow surface. While snowpack test were variable, he did report several avalanches on sunny aspects which occurred earlier this week.

Stevens DOT reported two avalanches Wednesday morning. One failed on the 2/23 interface on a NE aspect. The weaklayer appeared to be buried surface hoar. The other was a larger avalanche failing earlier in the weak on the 2/13 facet-crust combination. This is the most recent avalanche report we have on this layer.

NWAC observer Jeremy Allyn was in the Snoquamlie Pass area Wednesday. He reported wind transported snow near treeline. He found the 2/23 interface about 2 feet below the snow surface.

Avalanche and snowpack observations from around the western regions of the Cascades and Passes continue to indicate that propagation of an avalanche on the 2/13 facets is possible. This layer has been found 2.5 to 4 feet below the snow surface.

No Corresponding Mountain Weather Forecast Available