Winter is trying to change the scene up in the high country, and it is getting white but the snow cover is still thin There are a few inches of snow registering at most of our higher elevation snotel sites across our forecast region. To the south in the St. Joe's there is about 7-9 inches of snow above 6,000 feet. The Cabinet Mountains have 7-9 inches above 5,000 feet and the Selkirks register 3-5 inches above 5,000 feet. Our winter snowpack began to build last week when we got a few inches of snow across our forecast region on November 9th and 10th. Following that, the deep freeze hit and this turned the snow on the ground to weak facets. There likely is a weak layer of surface hoar on top that could be buried by the next storm. This is something to be aware of for future avalanche conditions but not an immediate concern due to the relative lack of snow. Places in the high country that could be hazardous are windloaded areas, bedrock, and smooth open terrain like beargrass meadows. In these places where the terrain is steep enough you could trigger a slide if a weak layer exists. The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for the entire IPAC forecast region. Possibly one foot of new snow may fall between now and Sunday. Temperatures are on the rise so be aware of heavier snow falling on a weaker base. We are forecast to be in a wetter phase for the near future and I have not heard conclusive evidence stating how the El Nino pattern will influence our weather for the majority of the winter. I did hear, “a moderate El Nino pattern”, which could result in an average winter snowpack, and that results in a pretty good winter by my standards. We’ll keep you up to date on the latest as the winter progresses.
We’re set to offer a record number of avalanche awareness classes this year so be sure to stay tuned and get in on the “free-education”. Here’s what we have so far.
We’re excited about the first Friends of IPAC fundraiser at the Panida Theater in Sandpoint. It’s a Matchstick Productions ski film titled, Superheroes of Stoke. The doors open at 7pm, there will be raffle prizes and a silent auction and Eichardt’s hosts the bar. All proceeds go to IPAC and furthering avalanche education in North Idaho.
The State of Idaho Parks and Recreation Department in cooperation with the IPAC, is conducting (Free) avalanche workshops for snowmobilers this winter in Coeur d’ Alene on November 14th and January 11th and 12th, Grangeville January 25th and 26th, and in Sandpoint, November 28th and January 11th and 12th. For more information go to the Idaho Parks and Recreation Department website at www. parksandrecreation.idaho.gov, or call Scott Hildesheim, North Region Trails Specialist, at (208) 769-1511 or call Kevin Davis at the Sandpoint Ranger District at (208) 265-6686.
IPAC in Sandpoint and Sandpoint Parks and Recreation is sponsoring free avalanche workshops for all snowgoers. It begins with Winter 2013 and IPAC’s new website on 11/13/12. Then, Beacon practice on 11/27/12 and 12/11/12. There’s more so we’ll definitely post those before winter gets in full swing. These classes are offered at the new Forest Service Building in Sandpoint at 6PM and are Free to the public. For class schedules in the Silver Valley contact Dan Frigard at 752-5130. In Avery contact Ed Odegaard at 245-6209.
If you have a group or club that is interested in more education on avalanche safety we will be available for free avalanche awareness classes beginning in December, so feel free to give us a call. As usual we would appreciate hearing from anyone who happens to observe any recent avalanche activity while out in the backcountry or just wants to let us know what is going on in their area.