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West Slopes North - Canadian Border to Skagit River

Issued: 6:04 PM PST Thursday, February 1, 2018
by Dallas Glass

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. 

Deep snow conditions exist in the Baker area creating dangerous avalanche conditions. Avoid steep open slopes at all elevations. Large terrain will produce large avalanches. Travel on lower angle slopes and use extra caution if traveling through the tracks and runouts of larger avalanche paths.

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Avalanche Problems for Friday

Wet Slabsi

Wet slabs occur when there is liquid water in the snowpack, and can release during the first few days of a warming period. Travel early in the day and avoiding avalanche paths when you see pinwheels, roller balls, loose wet avalanches, and during rain-on-snow events.

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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:

A stormy week has deposited 2-3 feet of settled snow over a crust buried on January 29th. Warming air temperatures Thursday afternoon created an up-side-down snowpack structure with stronger surface snow over weaker snow.

Multiple deeper layers have been found within the storm snow. Observations generally show these layers gaining strength.

Wind slabs have developed in exposed locations near and above treeline.

Several older large and very large avalanches have been reported. These likely occurred on January 29th. No avalanches have been observed since that time.

Observations

NWAC pro-observer Lee Lazzara traveled in the Canyon Creek area Thursday. Lee found 15-24 inches of recent snow over the 1/29 crust. Wind Slabs were noted in terrain near ridgeline but poor visibility limited observations near treeline.

An avalanche professional traveling in the Mt Baker backcountry Thursday reported up-side-down surface snow conditions. More than 3 feet of snow was observed over the 1/29 crust. Poor visibility limited observations in the area.

Forecast for Friday:

Warm wet weather will increase avalanche danger in the Mt Baker area Friday. Avalanche conditions will depend largely on precipitation type.

In locations receiving snow, winds will combine with new precipitation to form Wind Slabs on a variety of aspects. Identify and avoid areas of wind-blown snow such as below cornices, on wind drifts, and near uneven snow surfaces.

In areas where rain occurs, wet avalanche problems will develop. Wet slab avalanches are very difficult to predict. Resulting wet avalanches can be large and destructive. Avoid all steep open slopes below treeine where you may trigger a wet avalanche.

Significant amounts of new snow have fallen in the Baker area this week. Deep snow like this deserves respect. This is a time to keep terrain choices very conservative. Large terrain will produce large avalanches. Extra caution should be taken if traveling below large avalanche paths.

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.