West Slopes South - South of I-90 to Columbia River

Issued: 3:02 PM PST Saturday, March 3, 2018
by Robert Hahn

While the Avalanche Danger is 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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  • Low (1)
  • Moderate (2)
  • Considerable (3)
  • High (4)
  • Extreme (5)

Avalanche Problems for Saturday

Wind Slabi

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Persistent Slabi

  • Avalanche Problemi
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Forecast for Saturday:

You are most likely to trigger Wind Slab avalanches above treeline, today. You can avoid these avalanches by staying off of recent snow drifts, deeply pillowed features, and fresh cornices on slopes 35 degrees and steeper. These areas may exist far below ridge-lines and on mid-slope cross-loaded pieces of terrain. Soft non-wind-effected snow may cover new wind slabs making them harder to identify. You may encounter some small loose avalanches on the surface of steep slopes today. 

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. If you dig about 2 feet below the surface you will find a series of thin sun crusts surrounded by very small facets. These layers have been the source of several avalanches in the Cascades.

Observers continue to report potential for a Deep Persistent Slab. 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 and staying out of large avalanche paths.

Avalanche Summary:

The Rainier and Crystal Mountain area picked up over a foot of snow since Wednesday and about 3 feet in the past week. Strong west and southwest wind accompanied much of the snow. Observers in the Crystal Mountain backcountry reported natural and triggered avalanche activity of many flavors this week. Significantly more avalanche observations have come from this area in the past three days than other parts of the West Slopes. It may be easier to trigger avalanches on the 2/13 facets near the Crystal Mountain area compared to terrain near Paradise side of Mount Rainier.

On Thursday, Forecaster Dallas Glass reported natural slab avalanches in wind loaded terrain near treeline. Dallas reported test showing potential for triggering avalanches on crust/facet combinations in the upper snowpack as well as up to 3 feet down on the older faceted 2/13 layer.

NWAC professional observers in the Crystal area Tuesday and Wednesday observed the 2/23 interface, involved in two previous avalanches, still reactive in snowpack tests. In this area the 2/23 layer was found 1-2 feet below the snow surface.

No Corresponding Mountain Weather Forecast Available