THIS AVALANCHE ADVISORY EXPIRED ON March 4, 2017 @ 7:00 am
Avalanche Advisory published on March 3, 2017 @ 7:00 am
Issued by Eric Morgan - Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center

Selkirks/Cabinets

bottom line

In the Cabinet Mountains near Lunch peak we found 9 feet of snow with calm winds and below freezing temperatures.  Above the thick icecrust formed 3 weeks ago, we have received 3 feet of low density fluff with the top 3 inches starting to slab up from the recent winds since Wednesday.  

How to read the advisory


  • Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.

Selkirks/Cabinets

How to read the advisory

2. Moderate

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Above Treeline

2. Moderate

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Near Treeline

2. Moderate

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Below Treeline

In the Cabinet Mountains near Lunch peak we found 9 feet of snow with calm winds and below freezing temperatures.  Above the thick icecrust formed 3 weeks ago, we have received 3 feet of low density fluff with the top 3 inches starting to slab up from the recent winds since Wednesday.  

  • Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
Avalanche Problem 1: Wind Slab
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Isolated areas of considerable exist in steep exposed terrain in the upper elevations of our higher peaks.  Stay clear from all cornices that have been building with recent winds.  

Avalanche Problem 2: Storm Slab
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With up to 2 feet in the forecast and temperatures at or near 32, the snow may be on the heavy side depending on how things shake out where you are at.  This new snow will be sitting atop some low density storm snow from earlier in the week and will need some time to compress and consolidate.  Watch for rapid changes and give this new snow some time to bond.  Typically 24 to 48 hours.  

Avalanche Problem 3: Loose Wet
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At our lower elevations, temperatures will be well above freezing.  Watch for loose sluffs up to the 4500 foot range. 

recent observations

 Yesterday in the Cabinets, we saw some warming at the 4500' elevation later in the day where things were getting a bit sticky and observed some pinwheeling. Up to 6200' the snow quality remained excellent with some wind.  We saw some recent avalanche activity from last week on an open steep exposed NE aspect near Blacktail lake.  The Selkirks seem to have had the most wind with slabs up to 5 feet in the upper elevation ridgetops where exposed.  Reports from the public include some touchy windslabs last week in upper elevation steep exposed slopes, one above Fault Lake and up near Clifty Mountain.  This week these expect to see considerable hazard areas on steep, exposed ridgetop areas.  On a North aspect we observed about 3 feet of new snow on top of our 3 week old ice crust that is still consolidating between each of our recent storms this past week.  

Southerly aspects are all much firmer across the advisory area due to sun and wind.  

Attention! I just talked with Ben Bernall, forecaster out of the Kootenai and yesterdays observations in the Purcells near Northwest peaks however are different than the rest of our advisory area at this time.  The word is that the 3 feet of snow is not bonding well to the icecrust and that there is a nasty surface hoar layer a few feet down that is more prominent than what we are seeing across the rest of the advisory area.  For more information visit http://www.flatheadavalanche.org/kootenai-snowpack-summary

CURRENT CONDITIONS Weather observations from the Region
0600 temperature: 26 deg. F.
Max. temperature in the last 24 hours: 32 deg. F.
Average wind direction during the last 24 hours: 240
Average wind speed during the last 24 hours: 10 mph
Maximum wind gust in the last 24 hours: 15 mph
New snowfall in the last 24 hours: 3 inches
Total snow depth: 114 inches
weather

Warmer temperatures possibly 36F today with cooling through the weekend with highs at 29 on Sunday.  Expect to see new snow accumulations up to 5 inches during each day and night through the weekend, picking up 1-2 feet of snow throughout the weekend in the mountains with temperatures hovering around 32 day and low 20's in the night.  In the northern panhandle winds will be out of the southwest in the 20's with gusts getting into the 30's through the outlook period, whereas the southern portion will see lighter winds around the low teens with gusts in the low 20's.  Continued snow storms throughout all next week.    

Disclaimer

This avalanche advisory is provided through a partnership between the Idaho Panhandle National Forest and the Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center. This advisory covers the Selkirk, Cabinet, and Bitteroot Mountains in the Panhandle. This advisory applies only to backcountry areas outside established ski area boundaries. This advisory describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur. This advisory expires 24 hours after the posted time unless otherwise noted. The information in this advisory is provided by the USDA Forest Service who is solely responsible for its content.