Likelihood ?CertainVery LikelyLikelyPossible
Size ?HistoricVery LargeLarge
This past week the mountains recieved a couple of modest shots of new powder. Yesterday the winds were blowing strong out of the southwest. This added up to small pockets of wind slab in the usual locations on north and east aspects. These windslabs are not very thick (4-6") in most locations with an occassional deep pocket were the new snow was blown in and deposited. Places that concerned me yesterday were steep gullies or chutes over 35°, convex rolls, and any terrain with a wind-lip hanging over it.
It's been a great year, other obligations are now becoming a priority and it's time for me to shut 'er down for the season. But, before I go there are a few things to mention and more than a few folks to thank!
Let's start with my partners who put up with my quirks and spastic nature! Nate Stephens, Grant Golden, Cass Hoppy, Julie Hopkinson, Little Buddy and my better half Shana-some of you got paid and some had to volunteer to put up with me, much appreciated! My fellow forecasters for the early morning avalanche banter, being awesome co-workers and helping keep this all together, The Friends of IPAC-lots of volunteer time goes into this operation and your sacrifice is much appreciated! Bill Pepper, Steve Bryant, Ken Stephens and Dave Anderson for giving me little bits of intel on your adventures in the snow-and for being old school hard-animals! Matchwood Brewing for the venue and support of the IPAC mission(and for the awesome beer), my bosses THOR and Kirsten for the support and all of you for reading and keeping safe out there this winter. And lastly, a quick tribute to the late Kenny Rogers. Some avalanche professionals use a checklist or and acronym for decision making. Some of us like to sing "The Gambler" as we travel through the mountains!
Said, "If you're gonna play the game, Boy, you gotta learn to play it right. You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em. Know when to walk away, know when to run....The secret to survivin' is knowin' what to throw away and knowin what to keep.... And somewhere in the darkness, The Gambler he broke even."
See ya next year ya'll!
Yesterdays tour took us into the East Cabinets for our final field day of the year. It started out sunny enough; but, as is normal for Northwest Montana it socked in by the time we reached the ridgeline. What was consistent though throughout the day were the strong southwest winds. The obvious signs of snow devils and spindrift blowing off of the high ridges was easily seen through-out the day. The snowpack felt very stable underfoot as we toured through the lower elevations with 4" of soft powder on a firm base. As we climbed into the higher alpine terrain the effects of the wind became readily apparent, new snow was drifted into deep pockets of shallow depressions and gullies. Frequent density changes were observed with subtle aspect changes and the occasional shooting crack in the surface slabs. In timbered areas the snow was nice and consistent, lots of excellent riding out there still!
Backcountry Forecast from NWS Missoula issued: 330 AM MDT Fri Mar 27 2020 DISCUSSION: Northwest Montana: Satellite depiction of a subtle weather disturbance approaching from the regions further validate a recent weakening model trend for this feature. So while the chance for snow throughout the terrain remains remains fairly high today, the amounts will generally be light and on the order of perhaps only a few inches. Most everywhere will see some shower activity, but the Bitterroot Mountains along the Idaho/Montana state line appear to be most favored. Saturday's feature is again weak with high pressure starting to develop by the afternoon which would likely shift the threat for showers north throughout the day.
Kootenai: --------------------------- 5000-7000 FT ---------------------------- Today Tonight Sat Cloud Cover 70% 80% 85% Hi/Lo Temps 29 to 38 25 to 31 32 to 40 Winds(mph) SW 11G24 SW 12G25 SW 12G25 Precip Chc 50 40 70 Precip Type snow snow snow Liquid Amt 0.04 0.08 0.05 Snow Ratio(SLR) 15:1 14:1 13:1 Snow Amt(in) 0-1 1-3 0-1 Snow Level 3000 4000 4000
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.
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