THIS AVALANCHE ADVISORY EXPIRED ON January 31, 2018 @ 5:21 am
Avalanche Advisory published on January 30, 2018 @ 5:21 am
Issued by Ben Bernall - Kootenai National Forest

Kootenai

bottom line

Monday night came in with high winds and light snowfall at the upper elevations.  Expect to find windslabs of variable thickness in the highest terrrain on northeasterly aspects and stormslabs on all aspects above 6,000.'  The strength, thickness and reactivity of these slabs will vary greatly with the rapidly changing weather pattern we are currently experiencing.  Approach steep terrain above 6,000' with caution.

How to read the advisory

Monday night came in with high winds and light snowfall at the upper elevations.  Expect to find windslabs of variable thickness in the highest terrrain on northeasterly aspects and stormslabs on all aspects above 6,000.'  The strength, thickness and reactivity of these slabs will vary greatly with the rapidly changing weather pattern we are currently experiencing.  Approach steep terrain above 6,000' with caution.

3. Considerable

?

Above Treeline
Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making essential.

2. Moderate

?

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

2. Moderate

?

Below Treeline
Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
    Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making essential.
Avalanche Problem 1: Wind Slab
  • Type ?
  • Aspect/Elevation ?
  • Likelihood ?
    Certain
    Very Likely
    Likely
    Possible
    Unlikely
  • Size ?
    Historic
    Very Large
    Large
    Small

A stout southwesterly wind moved in Monday night and is forecast to continue pummeling the Kootenai region though tonight at upper elevations.  Due to yesterdays warm temperatures there was very little snow available for wind transport below 7,000'.  Above this elevation the snow likely remained light enough to be transported onto leeward slopes.  We also recorded 4" of fresh snow at Bear Mt. and Hawkins Lake Snotel sites.  This modest amount of snow combined with strong winds has created some fresh slabs on leeward terrain.

Avalanche Problem 2: Storm Slab
  • Type ?
  • Aspect/Elevation ?
  • Likelihood ?
    Certain
    Very Likely
    Likely
    Possible
    Unlikely
  • Size ?
    Historic
    Very Large
    Large
    Small

High elevation terrain recieved a walloping of fresh snow last week that came in at variable densities and temperatures.  At elevations above 7,000' this new is likely harboring weaknesses between layers that have yet to fully bond and strengthen.  The additional 4" of snow we recieved last night is likely to add another layer of storm snow to the mix at upper elevations.  This avalanche problem should decrease in danger as our warm temps from yesterday drop into a cooling trend. 

Avalanche Problem 3: Loose Wet
  • Type ?
  • Aspect/Elevation ?
  • Likelihood ?
    Certain
    Very Likely
    Likely
    Possible
    Unlikely
  • Size ?
    Historic
    Very Large
    Large
    Small

Warm temps combined with the loose snow that fell through last weekend has the potential to create "loose-wet" slides at the lower elevations.   These slides should be given attention in areas where there  is the possibility of being pushed into a tree or buried in a gully.  This problem will decrease in danger as our temperatures drop and the upper snowpack locks back together.  You could say this was Mondays problem, and will likely dissipate with todays cooling trend.

advisory discussion

Huge thanks to all the folks from David Thompson SAR, Troy Snowmobile Club and the Libby Snowmobile Club for showing up and helping out with last weekends avalanche training.  



Many dummies were saved!

And another big thank you to the Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness and the Libby 5th grade class for hosting the "Tracks" field trip Friday!

recent observations

If you are seeing avalanche activity out there it would be extremely helpful to me if you could submit your observations through this website or directly to me via email.  All I need is the location, approximate size, aspect, elevation and a short sentence or two on the circumstances.  If you wish I am happy to keep them anonymous.  I can be reached at bbernall@fs.fed.us.

Thank You!

Weather and CURRENT CONDITIONS
weather summary
Backcountry Forecast from NWS Missoula issued:
550 AM MST Tue Jan 30 2018

DISCUSSION: Gusty winds are occurring with and behind the cold 
front this morning, but snow levels have been slow to lower.
While temperatures near 5000 feet are still above freezing early 
this morning, snow levels will gradually lower throughout the day.
Gusty terrain winds and snow showers are expected through the 
day. Winds decrease tonight but snow showers will remain. Some of 
the showers may develop into stronger bands with the potential for
isolated higher snow accumulations Wednesday morning. Cooler 
temperatures and light snow are likely through Thursday. A warmer 
and wetter weather system is becoming more likely for Friday.

Kootenai:
--------------------------- 5000-7000 FT ----------------------------
                      Today        Tonight      Wed      
Cloud Cover           75%          85%          65%      
Hi/Lo Temps           27 to 33     15 to 20     22 to 28 
Winds(mph)            SW 26G49     SW 18G37     W  8     
Precip Chc            30           50           50       
Precip Type           sno/shr      snow         snow     
Liquid Amt            0.02         0.05         0.04     
Snow Ratio(SLR)       17:1         17:1         18:1     
Snow Amt(in)          0-1          0-2          0-2      
Snow Level            2000         1500         500      
Disclaimer

Avalanche conditions change for better or worse continually. Backcountry travelers should be prepared to assess current conditions for themselves, plan their routes of travel accordingly, and never travel alone. Backcountry travelers can reduce their exposure to avalanche hazards by utilizing timbered trails and ridge routes and by avoiding open and exposed terrain with slope angles of 30 degrees or more. Backcountry travelers should carry the necessary avalanche rescue equipment such as a shovel, avalanche probe or probe ski poles, a rescue beacon and a well-equipped first aid kit.  For a recorded version of the Avalanche Advisory call (208)765-7323.