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Olympics

Issued: 6:26 PM PST Thursday, February 8, 2018
by Josh Hirshberg

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. 

Generally safe avalanche conditions are expected Friday. Firm surface snow, glide cracks and difficult travel conditions may pose non-avalanche related hazards.

Danger Scalei
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Avalanche Summary:

Very mild temperatures Thursday and steady winds maintained firm to shallow moist surface snow. 

Recent rain and mild temperatures over the past week has allowed for a consolidating and mostly uniform spring-like snowpack in the Hurricane Ridge area.

Melt water has drained well through the snowpack that ranges from about 3-4 ft on solar aspects to 7-10 ft in the deepest shaded slopes, though the snowcover is highly variable in this terrain.

The recent warm and wet weather has also allowed glide cracks to open on several slopes with smooth ground surfaces. Some of these glide cracks produced large Glide Avalanches over the past week in common locations such as Steeple, and the Steep-and-Icy avalanche paths.

Cornices have reduced in size significantly over the past week of mild and periodically wet weather. 

Observations

NWAC pro-observer Matt Schonwald and NPS Rangers traveled in the Mt Angeles areas Thursday, 2/8. The snowpack was described as a fairly uniform, well drained late spring snowpack, lacking any distinctive layering. The recent warm weather, rain and winds have melted or stripped significant snow from the southerly facing terrain and even shaded terrain near large rocky features. There were a few glide avalanches observed, likely releasing last Saturday during a rain event. Cornices had been trimmed greatly over the past weeks mild and wet weather.

Forecast for Friday:

Avalanches are unlikely today, though not impossible. No significant avalanche problems exist. Continue to use normal caution. Always carry a beacon, shovel, and probe and use travel practices that minimize your exposure to avalanche terrain.

However, there are some remaining considerations to stay safe in the mountains.

A strong surface crust should form as temperatures drop Thursday night through Friday. Many snow surfaces may be firm and icy. A slip and fall in steep terrain above rocks or cliffs could be today’s biggest hazard in the mountains.

Several glide cracks have been reported so watch for these potential travel hazards. With the cool expected weather, these cracks are more of a danger if you fall in them than an avalanche problem.

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.