A relatively widespread layer of Surface Hoar and Near Surface Facets is now lying below the new snow. We found this layer on Thursday 15-18 inches down in the middle elevations and in higher areas that were protected from the winds that accompanied this last storm cycle. Surface Hoar and faceted snow layers are responsible for more avalanche accidents and fatalities than all other types of avalanches combined. This layer failed in many steep areas naturally as the new snow came in but is waiting for a trigger in many more. This is a very tricky layer to predict or forecast for due to the variability and the uncertainty of where you will find it in the snowpack and throughout the mountains right now. The only way you will know for sure is to dig in to the snow and look for the obvious grey line in the snow. Whumphing or collapsing of the snowpack will let you know that you are in an area with buried surface hoar or faceted snow. With this kind of variability, you will need to dig in lots of places as you travel. Hand pits in lots of locations or 5 minutes with your shovel could save your life today.
The picture below shows a close up of the surface hoar layer at the height of the saw. This type of problem tends to linger for awhile.
With today's forecasted south winds expect to see any snow available for transport loading onto slopes on the north half of the compass making a thin new batch of wind slabs. Also, wind slabs were created in the upper elevations with the last storm cycle and winds in the upper 20 mph range common throughout most of the area. Over the past week winds have swirled across the bottom of the compass from east to southwest creating the possibility of 1-3 foot deep wind slabs on the northern portion of the compass as well as east and west aspects. These slabs may be resting on old wind slabs, a layer of surface hoar, or other faceted (loose grained) snow or on firm crusts. Pay attention to the obvious signs of wind affected snow, rounded, sculpted, drifted or pillowy looking snow will let you know right where the wind deposited snow piled up. Hollow sounding or feeling snow should tell you to find a different slope as well.
Snowmobiler/Snowbiker Travel Restrictions: a quick reminder that the Granite Mountain Area Closure is now in effect. In addition there are other areas on the Payette National Forest that are CLOSED to snowmobile traffic including Jughandle Mt east of Jug Meadows, Lick Creek/Lake Fork Drainage (on the right side of the road as you are traveling up canyon), and the area north of Brundage Mt Ski area to junction "V" and along the east side of Brundage snd Sargeant's Mts. with the exception of the Lookout Rd( junction "S"). Please respect these closures and other users recreating in them. Winter Travel Map(East side)
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|0600 temperature:||18 deg. F.|
|Max. temperature in the last 24 hours:||18 deg. F.|
|Average wind direction during the last 24 hours:||SE|
|Average wind speed during the last 24 hours:||9 mph|
|Maximum wind gust in the last 24 hours:||16 mph|
|New snowfall in the last 24 hours:||1 inches|
|Total snow depth:||inches|
1 to 2 inches of new snow fell overnight with light and variable winds. Today forecasts are calling for up to another 4 inches with winds out of the south southeast blowing in the 20's and gusting into the 30's.
This avalanche advisory is provided through a partnership between the Payette National Forest and the Payette Avalanche Center. This advisory covers the West Central Mountains between Hard Butte on the north and Council Mountain on the south. 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 at 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.