Recreational Observation

Snoqualmie Pass

March 3, 2018, 2:30 p.m. PST

Weather: Am fog burned off for a most excellently sunny day. Temps @ 3k reached over 45 degrees! Light winds out of the SE.

Snowpack: At lower elevations a settled 5-10cm of fist hardness snow is sitting on a thin rain/MF crust that formed Thursday. Between this and a thicker sun crust from 2/13 is about a 1/2 meter of mostly homogenous snow who's density increases with depth. A thin (5cm) layer of looser, less dense, small grained snow does overly the 2/13 crust but I would stop short at labeling it facets.

Area Description: Snoq. Pass environs.

Avalanches: Observed numerous Loose Wet natural avalanches today on many aspects, including those without direct sun. Most of these were small with debris fanning out mid track but a couple accumulated a larger pile in gully features. Although nowhere was this surface activity observed to cause failure or propagation lower in the snowpack, there were a few debris fans which entrained a fair bit of surface snow and as such gouged into older snow. Also, some small piles of debris on W facing slopes appeared to slide more cohesively on a smooth surface I'd assume is the 2/13 crust. Although there are no shared observations, there are reports of snowpit tests indicating a likelihood of surface sloughing to activate one of our deeper persistent weak layers, however, none of the WL naturals observed today produced any such results. Referencing recorded observations, it appears Snoq. pass has not seen activity on the 2/8 facets since the 11th, but activity on the solar crust from the 13th has been as active as recently as this Wednesday. With a period of predominantly settled weather approaching, I'd definitely strongly consider the solar effect in tour plans moving forward, especially if you're concerned about surface activity stepping down and awakening a PWL. When traveling or digging in higher elevation shaded slopes, where these PWL's are most likely to be intact, I'd make attempts to understand the relationship of the strength, structure, and energy of the snowpack to evaluate localized likelihood (or lack thereof) of triggering a deeper, more unmanageable slide. If nothing else these are all good reminders of special variability, and the fact that snowpit tests are only one small, subjective tool to help us make good decisions. Even if you’re not ready to put the reactivity of buried layers to rest, it might be time to shift some of the focus to the return of that giant glowing orb in the sky.

Observation by Shag Nasty

Latitude: 47.380792

Longitude: -121.413232

Did you see any avalanches? Yes

Did you trigger any avalanches? No

Was anyone caught in an Avalanche? No