Snowpack Summary published on March 27, 2017 @ 2:30 pm
Issued by Ben Bernall - Kootenai National Forest
Avalanche Character 1: Storm Slab
Storm Slab avalanches release naturally during snow storms and can be triggered for a few days after a storm. They often release at or below the trigger point. They exist throughout the terrain. Avoid them by waiting for the storm snow to stabilize.

The mountains of the Kootenai National Forest recieved two seperate shots of snow above 6,000' late last week.  The most recent storm snow (top 6-8") is poorly bonded to the snow below.  This new snow has the potential to release small storm slabs in steep terrain above 6,000' in elevation.

BOTTOM LINE:  These storm slabs are not highly reactive or large and destructive.  They should however be treated with caution in terrain where the consequences of getting knocked down are high.  Avoid very steep, loaded gullies and terrain traps where a small avalanche has high potential consequences.  The mountian weather forecast is also calling for more additional mountain snow which has the potential to exacerbate this problem. 

Avalanche Character 2: Loose Wet
Loose Wet avalanches occur when water is running through the snowpack, and release at or below the trigger point. Avoid very steep slopes and terrain traps such as cliffs, gullies, or tree wells. Exit avalanche terrain when you see pinwheels, roller balls, a slushy surface, or during rain-on-snow events.

New snow sits on last Saturdays rain crust.  If it gets warm we can expect to see that snow come of the hill in a loose, sloppy mess.  Continue to pay attention to changing conditions while riding and consider the potential consequences of being pushed down the hill in a small slide.

Snowpack Discussion

The last snowpack summary will be issued this coming Friday on March 31st.

recent observations

My travels into the Eastern Cabinets this weekend revealed two layers of new snow resting on last weekends' rain crust.  The upper layer (6-8' depending on elevation and loading) was poorly bonded to the snow below.  It wasn't very reactive under foot; but, enough to make me shy away from skiing a steep chute off of a high ridge.  We observed multiple glide cracks and older climax avalanches that likely released on bedrock during the March 18th rain storm. We observed no new avalanches on Sunday even though the sun was out and warming the upper snow pack. 

weather summary

Backcountry Forecast from NWS Missoula issued:
930 AM MDT Mon Mar 27 2017
DISCUSSION: Several inches of snow are possible above 5000 feet
today, mainly occurring over north central Idaho and far northwest
Montana ranges. A more significant chance for up to 6 inches snow
accumulation appears to arrive Wednesday to Thursday, with north
central Idaho and southwest Montana mountains most favored.
Outside of today and midweek, very light snow accumulations and
daytime temperature near or above freezing are anticipated.

--------------------------- 5000-7000 FT ----------------------------
                                Today              Tonight          Tue     
Cloud Cover            95%                80%               85%     
Hi/Lo Temps           33 to 42          23 to 30          33 to 42
Winds(mph)            SW 13G24     SW 10G23     SW  8G20
Precip Chc               80                  30                    60      
Precip Type             sno/shr          sno/shr            sno/shr 
Liquid Amt              0.13              0.02                 0.06       
Snow Amt(in)          1-3               0                      0-1     
Snow Level             4500             4000                3500    


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 midnight on the posted day unless otherwise noted. The information in this advisory is provided by the USDA Forest Service who is solely responsible for its content.