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Olympics

Issued: 9:11 PM PST Wednesday, February 7, 2018
by Kenny Kramer

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. 

Avalanche hazard will decrease on Thursday, but continue to pay attention to loose wet snow that may create a small avalanche and mitigate overhead exposure to large cornices. Large glide cracks may exist and may be hazardous in the terrain..

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Avalanche Problems for Thursday

Loose Weti

Loose wet avalanches occur where water is running through the snowpack, and release at or below the trigger point. Avoid terrain traps such as cliffs, gullies, or tree wells. Exit avalanche terrain when you see pinwheels, roller balls, a slushy surface, or during rain-on-snow events.

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Forecast for Thursday:

Cooler temperatures, mostly cloudy weather leading to partial afternoon sunshine, and windy conditions on Monday will limit wet snow problems on Monday.

Wet snow will take some time to firm up and temperatures will remain mild or slightly above freezing most of the day on Thursday, so you still may be able to trigger a small loose wet avalanche in the terrain on Thursday. Check the depth of your boot or ski penetration. At all elevations, avoid steeper solar slopes where wet, slushy snow becomes deeper than a few inches.

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 warm temperatures through Thursday morning 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 by NPS rangers. At this point these cracks should be more of a terrain hazard than an avalanche problem.

Avalanche Summary:

Light rain was seen Saturday afternoon through Sunday morning along with mild temperatures caused wet surface snow conditions over the weekend. Since this time, temperatures cooled to near freezing Monday, before a warming trend took hold Tuesday and Wednesday with temperatures reaching into the 40's Wednesday. Further snow melt has occurred, but not much more settlement.

The recent warm and wet weather has allowed water to drain through the snowpack to 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.

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

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

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.