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Avalanche Warning Issued in the Cascades

19 Dec 2016, 3:05 pm

The Northwest Avalanche Center (NWAC) has issued an Avalanche Warning for the west slopes of the Cascade Mountains and for Mt. Hood. The center says increasing heavy snow will put load onto weak layers formed during the recent cold temperatures.  This will build unstable layers underneath the new snow and could create an avalanche.

Weak layers including faceted snow and a crust seen at Mt. Herman on Sunday. Photo by Simon Trautman from NWAC. 

According to the NWAC, “pro-observer Simon Trautman was on Mt. Herman on Sunday and found a widespread weak surface snow sandwich that included faceted snow and a crust. These layers were giving highly reactive cracking and natural and triggered slab avalanches on steep slopes.”

Pro Obs:  Despite good intentions to make it into the alpine today, strong northeast winds and rapidly forming wind slabs up high drove us from our objective before we even got our skins on. We shifted to more sheltered terrain but still observed the wind alternately scouring and loading slopes many Near Treeline areas – especially outside of the core Baker BC/Bagley Lakes area. Multiple snowpits still showed the presence of the December 8th facets and/or surface hoar – but this layer is becoming less reactive in testing. On the other hand the current snow surface is sprouting a whole new crop of weak surface snow than may become an issue with additional loading over the weekend. Lee Lazzara – December 16, 2016 #cascadewestnorthbaker @k2_skis @outdoorresearch @julbousa @lineskis @backcountryaccess

A photo posted by Northwest Avalanche Center (@nwacus) on

The NWAC also noted that “pro-observer Tom Curtis found weak faceted snow above the ground in a still fairly shallow overall snowpack in the Blewett Pass area Thursday. No observed avalanches were noted, but snowpack tests indicate the potential.”

In Montana, multiple natural avalanches have been observed on the steep slopes. The Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center says the poor snowpack is still adjusting to the heavy snow received lately.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BOK9aXegBdB

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center  says there is a considerable avalanche concern above the treeline areas.

For WeatherNation: Meteorologist Mace Michaels

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