Today: Partly sunny , 34 degrees, and SW winds at 7-10 mph.
Tonight: Mostly cloudy, 29 degrees, and SW winds at 7 mph.
Saturday: Partly sunny, 40 degrees, SW winds at 8 mph.
Sunday: 100% chance of rain, 40 degrees, SW winds at 22 mph.
The avalanche danger will remain with the forecast weather for the outlook period due warm temperatures, no overnight freezing, and rain.
Snowpack and Avalanche Discussion
The rain beat us out of Lightning Creek yesterday as we attempted to ride up to Round Top via the Auxor Basin road. The snow was deep and wet and that was on the groomed trail. We headed to the top of Trestle and dug our pits on the ridge as a snow storm engulfed us. In the past week the Cabinet mountains have received over 2 feet of new snow with 8 inches of water, that's heavy. The Selkirks got right around 18-20 inches of new snow with about 5 inches of water, also heavy. Shears in this new snow are at the interface with the heavy wet snow over the cold light snow. Remember, it was sub-zero last weekend and we got one foot or so of very cold snow and that is buried under this layer of heavy shaving cream. That's our first avalanche problem. Wind slabs were deposited on easterly aspects and these are the most touchy areas right now because they are denser and overlying the colder lighter snow. Stay off of steep wind-loaded slopes near ridgelines today and this weekend, easy enough. We also got easy shears on a crust layer in the upper 2 feet of the pack. Rain and warm temperatures will make this weak layer want to move. We haven't gotten solid overnight freezes for the last couple of nights and that is weakening the pack too. Lastly, if you get a slab moving it could potentially step down to the buried surface hoar layer that is proudly intact after over a month and a half and buried 3-5 feet deep. Did I mention the depth hoar in places where the pack is shallow? That's a weak layer that we don't normally deal with but the extremely cold weather formed it early this winter and its lurking on multiple aspects where the pack is shallow. Lot's of ways to bang yourself up out there. Pay attention to the terrain and avoid steep wind-loaded areas today and this weekend. The avalanche hazard rating for the Selkirk and Cabinet Mountains is CONSIDERABLE on wind-loaded aspects steeper than 35 degrees above 5,000 feet. On other aspects and below 5,000 feet the avalanche hazard is rated as MODERATE.
Avalanche hazards may change dependent on the amount of new snow and winds. Use this forecast only as a tool in your box. Terrain and route finding will be paramount to safety in the backcountry. 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 and utilizing safety zones and avoiding terrain traps when travelling with your groups. Backcountry travelers should carry the necessary avalanche rescue equipment such as a shovel,