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Olympics

Issued: 8:43 AM PST Wednesday, February 7, 2018
by Robert Hahn

Rapidly warming temperatures will increase the danger of loose wet, cornice and glide avalanche problems, particularly during the afternoon hours. Loose wet avalanches are possible to trigger on steep slopes with wet surface snow. Avoid travel beneath corniced slopes, under rock faces where glide cracks may exist, or where avalanches may carry you into terrain traps.

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Avalanche Problems for Wednesday

Loose Weti

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Forecast for Wednesday:

The Hurricane Ridge area will see very significant warming, with snow levels rising to the top of the above treeline terrain on Wednesday. Mostly cloudy skies are expected with a slight chance of a light rain shower.

Small to large loose wet avalanches are possible on all aspects and at all elevations on Tuesday as significant warming combine with the potential for sun breaks or light rain showers warm the snow. You are more likely to trigger a loose wet avalanche at lower elevations where wet snow conditions extend deeper in the snowpack. Loose wet avalanches may be small to large in size and may run farther and entrain more snow than you expect on Wednesday.

Large cornices exists primarily on NW-SE aspects along ridgelines in the Hurricane Ridge area. Recent mild air temperatures and rain have made these massive blocks of snow more likely to fail. After a several days of cooler weather, additional warming on Wednesday will increase the likelihood of failure, so continue to give cornices a wide berth and avoid travel directly below corniced slopes. 

Several glide cracks have been reported recently by NPS rangers. Glide avalanches occur in locations where wet smooth ground surfaces allow the entire snowpack to avalanche. Glide avalanches are highly unpredictable and as their releases generally are not tied to peak warming or rainfall. If you see glide cracks on a slope, avoid traveling on or below that terrain. While you are unlikely to trigger a glide avalanche, a glide avalanche would be large and deadly. With limited rain at Hurricane Ridge, the probability on Tuesday is quite low, but continue to travel around open cracks and rock faces with caution.

Avalanche Summary:

Fair weather has returned to hurricane ridge, with cooling to slightly below freezing with diurnal warming to slightly above freezing. A melt-freeze cycle is likely to be seen with the surface snow conditions and some initial warming trend is starting to be seen during the day on Tuesday as a high pressure brings warmer air to the Olympics before the Cascades.

Light rain was seen Saturday afternoon through Sunday morning along with mild temperatures caused wet surface snow conditions over the weekend. Significant snowpack settlement continues to occur in the Hurricane Ridge area with the recent warm and wet weather. On Friday, several natural wet loose avalanches were observed at all elevations.

Large cornices developed during the last two weeks of January along ridgelines near and above treeline.

The recent warm and wet weather has produced glide cracks on slopes with smooth ground surfaces. Observations indicate glide cracks in common locations such as 20th of June, Steeple, and the Steep-and-Icy avalanche paths.

Observations

NWAC pro-observer Matt Schonwald and NPS Rangers traveled in the Mt Angeles areas Friday. They observed moist to wet surface snow up to 6000 feet. Wet loose avalanches were seen releasing during sunny breaks around mid-day. They identified and avoided traveling near or below large cornices.

No Corresponding Mountain Weather Forecast Available