Observation – southern Lewis Range

From: Michael Reavis 
Date: 4/10/14
Time: 1000-1500
Location: Southern Lewis Range
Activity: Skiing

Toured to 7600ft. Winds were sporadic and gusty from the SW all day. Skies were mostly clear and temps ranged from the upper 20’s to mid 30’s. Great corn skiing found on all aspects. Noticed many wet slides and small slab releases along the Flathead Range (mainly S and E facing aspects). Also of note, a wet slide (mainly pinwheels and loose snow) on the SE aspect of Mt. Adams ran partway then triggered a slab release. Many cornices along the ridge were beginning to show signs of calving. 

Signs of unstable cornice. Southern Lewis Range. 4/10/2014.

Signs of unstable cornice. Southern Lewis Range. 4/10/2014.

Observation – 4/3/2014 – Essex Creek drainage, Middle Fork, Flathead Range

From: Steven Zwisler

Date: 4/3/14

Time: 0900-1600

Location: Essex Cr

Activity: Skiing

 

 

Snowpack Observations:

 

Skied to the head of Essex Cr and descended the trees below the Adams/Cameahwait saddle in old dense snow and nearly corn. We could not hit ground with a 10 ft probe at 6,400 ft. The snow pack was upside down at 6,400 ft. There was no settling, cracking, or other alarms. We saw no current avalanche activity but did we ever see some impressive history. All the slide paths off Essex Mt into Essex Cr had gone big with several damning the creek and some lobes turning to go down the valley. There were slides in the woods below cliff bands. A slide came down the big opening off the back side of Snowshed that meets Essex Cr at 4,800 ft, crossed the creek, and extended down valley. There were new wet slides on top of the old debris though the newer slides did not reach the creek or the summer trail. Cameahwait and Adams had old visible triangle shaped crowns and debris trains. The one from Cameahwait went to 5,200 ft. Peak 7,854 had old slides in its west facing glades where I have never seen avalanches in the 33 years I have skied in the Essex drainage. All in all a sobering reminder of what can happen. Oh, it was also a beautiful spring day.

Observation – 3/31/2014 – Marion/Dickey Creek drainages, Middle Fork, Flathead Range

Name: Steven Zwisler
Date: 3/31/14
Time: 1000 – 1400
Location: Marion/Dickey ridge
Activity: Skiing

Skinned up the Marion trail which was made easier by 2-3 ” of new snow and two skiers ahead of us. We climbed up on our own track to the ridge in the forest on the south facing slope. The sun which was out most of the time was transforming the slope causing me to feel like I was crushing grapes at a Fall festival. However, shaded areas still had powder snow. There were no auditory or visual alarms. It was cool and we commented on the fact that the tree ice cycles were not dripping. The north face off the Essex ridge had some sloughing in the open steep areas and we noted an old skin track and a descent line. We skied the long descent to the Dickey Road known locally as Telegraph Hill. It was powder to 5,000 ft skier’s right in the shade, then a supportable crust to 4,800 ft, and then trap crust to the road. It was 40 degrees when we left Essex. We saw no avalanche activity on the north facing run. There was no wind slab formation where we skied though we were looking for it.

Observation – 3/29 – 30/2014 – Pike Creek, Flathead Range and Apgar Range, GNP

Name: Joe Grabowski 
Date: March 29 & 30, 2014
Time: Noon
Location: Pike Creek & Apgars
Activity: Skiing

Snowpack Observations:

Saturday March 29: Toured Pike Creek area south of Marias Pass. Temps just above freezing and snowing on and off with some sunny periods. Snow warmed up over night just enough to make travel conditions difficult. Clumping. About 12″ of storm snow. No signs of recent avalanche activity.

Sunday March 30: Toured from Rubideau to Fern Creek in the Apgar mountains. Warm and sunny for the first half of the day followed by near blizzard conditions at times when crossing the crest of the range; grauple followed up big, wet snow flakes. Breakable trap crust above 4,800′ on all aspects, wet snow below that elevation. No signs of recent avalanche activity or instability. Most of the west facing slide paths had old avalanche debris. Decent travel conditions.

Observation – 3/26/2014 – Skookoleel Peak area, Whitefish Range

Observer: Steven Zwisler

Date: 3/26/14

Time: 1100-1430

Location: Tributary stream to Lakalaho/Shady Grove

Activity: Skiing

 

 

Snowpack Observations:

 

Skied the drainage NE and next to Lakalaho Cr off the 6,600 ft ridge, then climbed up Lakalaho Cr and went down Shady Grove. Very good old snow on North aspects, everything else was sun affected. There were a variety of crusts and mush. We saw spot slides and a variety of pastries on south facing aspects. There were some volunteer tree bomb drops which, given their size, are worth watching for. We skied some steep roll overs and side hills without consequence. No slumping, cracking, and settling was observed or heard.

Observation – 3/26/2014 – Marion Lake, Flathead Range

 

FLATHEAD AVALANCHE CENTER

Observer Information

 

Date: 3/26/2014

Time:11:00am

Name: Gary Ludwig  Matt Hebert  Jeremy Morrone Lindsay Fansler

 

DAILY FIELD WEATHER SUMMARY

 

ZONE: Marion Lake

MT RANGE: Middle Fork

ELEV. RANGE: 4100-6800

 

SKY

PRECIP

Type/Rate

Temperature

RIDGETOP WIND (mph) (actual or est)

HN24  est @ Elev.

HS est @ Elev.

Trailbreaking/Riding Conditons

Skiing/Riding Quality

AM

PM

AM

PM

Hi

Low

Speed

Dir

0

?

Easy up to Marion Lake, more difficult above due to deep snow

Excellent! Deep and light up high.  More dense and surfy down low

 

 

Scattered snow squalls

 

40f

28f

0-10

SW

                               

 

Weather Comments

q  SKY: Mostly cloudy, a bit of sun at times

 

q  PRECIP: Occasional light snow showers

 

q  WIND: SW, varied from calm to 5-10 mph in snow squalls

 

SNOWPACK AND AVALANCHE FACTORS

q  SNOW SURFACE: Sun crust up to Marion Lake, soft  above the lake

 

q  LAYERS OF CONCERN? Early March rain crust, but it was buried about 4 feet down.  Otherwise no movement was observed; no glide cracks, wumping or surface sloughing.

 

q  RECENT AVALANCHE ACTIVITY/OBSERVATIONS  On the way up to Marion Lake we crossed several south facing chutes that had run  during the latest warm-up.

 

q  STABILITY TEST?   Yes @ elevation 6500’ north face Essex Mtn above Marion Lake.     ECTN13Q2@30cm

 

q  COMMENTS: No recent skin tracks were evident on the way up, so either no one has been up there in quite a while (seems unlikely) or there was enough new snow and wind since Saturday to erase all evidence. A light sun crust was present up to the lake, but this crust was not evident on the way down due to warming temperatures.  On the hike up to Essex ridge we encountered heavier snow on the lower half of the ascent, and increasingly lighter snow on the upper half as expected. This lighter snow led to some great face shots and “cold smoke” turns. The snowpack is as deep as I’ve ever seen it up there, with no evidence of the dreaded alders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avalanche Observations        None

NUM

SIZE

LOC

TRIGGER

 

TYPE

INC

ASP

ELEV

COMMENTS:

(Est. Depth, Width, Failure Layer, Timing)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Observation – 3/25/2014 – John F Stevens Canyon, Glacier National Park, Lewis Range

 

BNSF RAILWAY AVALANCHE SAFETY

VOLUNTARY FIELD OBSERVATIONS

(406) 863-0476 Email: richard.steiner@bnsf.com

 

 

 

 
 

DATE

SUBMITTED:

TIME SUBMITTED:

OBSERVATION LOCATION

OBSERVATION

DATE:

SUBMITTED BY:

3/26/2014

        0630

Shed 7 West SZ

3/25/2014

Steiner

GENERAL INFORMATION:

Ascended the Shed 7 avalanche path to the Shed 7 West path.  Followed the main path to approximately 5400 feet (1636 m) elevation and then exited path to the Shed 7 West/ Shed 8 ridgeline.  Followed ridgeline to 6020 feet (1824 m) elevation and completed a full profile on a east- northeast aspect.  Conditions for skin ascent were good and due daytime warming, descent conditions were poor.  No snowpack collapsing, audible failures or shooting cracks observed.

WEATHER OBSERVATIONS:

Mostly clear to clear skies with air temperatures in the morning around 200F.  Throughout the daytime hours air temperatures climbed to near 500F at all elevations, winds were calm to light from the SW, visibility unlimited, and conditions remained dry.

 

SNOWPACK OBSERVATIONS:

 

Conducted a full profile on a 35 degree East/ Northeast aspect at 6200 feet elevation located in a looker’s right path of the Shed 7 West starting zone.  Snowpack depth was 377 cm (9 feet).

 

  • A significant temperature gradient existed in a portion of the snowpack between the interfaces of 270 cm from the ground and the snowpack above this height and 220 cm from the ground and the snowpack below this height.  In this 270 cm to 220 cm portion of the snow pack the snowpack temperature was recording -1 to -20C. Interface snowpack temperatures and temperatures at all other elevations in the snowpack were recording 00C.

 

  • Snowpack was moist throughout.

 

  • A deep seated layer of concern at this profile location was a 1F mixed form layer sandwiched between two pencil hard crusts located 157 cm from the ground surface or 120 cm from the snowpack surface.

 

  • Extended Column stability tests conducted on this deep layer of greatest concern resulted in “No Results” when conducted from the surface of the snowpack or in deep tap tests.  Compression tests, however, resulted in conclusive results on this layer at CTH 22 and CTH 23 Q2.

 

  • A more surface related layer of concern in this profile location was located 37 cm from the snowpack surface and was related to a mixed form layer beneath a 4F hard crust.  Again No ECT results on this layer but Compression Tests conclusively scored CTM 18 and CTM 16 Q2.

 

 

 

AVALANCHE OBSERVATIONS:

 

  • No recent avalanche activity observed.

 

 03_25_14_Shed 7 west

 

 

 

BNSF AVALANCHE SAFETY FIELD OBSERVATIONS SUBMITTED TO FLATHEAD AVALANCHE CENTER AND GLACIER NATIONAL PARK ARE BEING PROVIDEDED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS SPECIFIED GLACIER NATIONAL PARK SPECIAL USE PERMIT.  

 

THESE OBSERVATIONS REPRESENT SITE SPECIFIC INFORMATION INTENDED FOR THE BNSF AVALANCHE SAFETY PROGRAM AND IN NO WAY ARE TO BE CONSTRUED AS A PUBLIC/ RECREATION AVALANCHE FORECAST. 

 

 

 

Observation – 3/25/2014 – Peak 6996, John F. Stevens Canyon, Glacier NP, Lewis Range

 

Observer Information

Date: 3/23/14

Time: 1500

Name: Jason Griswold/Brooke Timm

DAILY FIELD WEATHER SUMMARY

ZONE: Lewis Ranger/ Glacier NP

MT RANGE:

ELEV. RANGE: ~6500’

SKY

PRECIP

Type/Rate

Temperature

RIDGETOP WIND (mph) (actual or est)

HN24est @ Elev.

HS est @ Elev.

Trailbreaking/Riding Conditions

Skiing/Riding Quality

AM

PM

AM

PM

Hi

Low

Speed

Dir

4 cm

~310 cm

Approximately 4 cm new snow on established skin track. About 15 cm of easy trail braking off track.

Enjoyable boot top to knee deep powder

 

Intermitten breaking clouds

 

intermittent Light <1cm/ hr

1C

-2C

Calm- gusting 10mph

SE

                             

 

Weather Comments

SKY: Cloud cover, Trend, Timing:Mixed. Sunny and warm during ascent making for some sticky skinning on exposed upper East Ridge. Clouds rolled in while evaluating the pit.

 

PRECIP: Type/rate, Accumulation:Intermittent light snow later in the afternoon.

 

WIND: speed/direction/blowing snow: Winds mostly calm but picked up in late afternoon with gusts from SE of approximately 10 mph .

 

SNOWPACK AND AVALANCHE FACTORS

SNOW SURFACE: (crusts, soft snow, hard snow, dry, wet, sfc hoar) 4 cm new(24 hr) snow on top of recent storm cycle snow.

 

LAYERS OF CONCERN? We found a thin reactive layer of small (<1mm) decomposing facets approximately 70 cm from the surface - though it took hard force for it to fail. The column popped out on CT27 Q1 several centimeters above the early March rain/melt/freeze crust. A subsequent, but impromptu shovel shear had the column pop out directly above that crust at about 90 cm from the surface under moderate force.With the CT Q1 result, we thought we might see propagation in the ECT. No such luck, but we did get ECTN28 on that layer of decomposing facets.We also had ECTN results in some of the various recent storm cycle snow in the top 30 cm of surface snow

 

RECENT AVALANCHE ACTIVITY/OBSERVATIONS: None

 

STABILITY TEST? See above

 

COMMENTS:Lots of snow on the north aspect of Peak 6996 with over 3 meters at our chosen snow pit site (we were actually looking for a shallow spot but were fooled by some hidden terrain features).The gully of the “Big Run” is almost completely filled in – giving the area a much different feel. Skiing the same area on March 20th, I found some wind slab formation just below the summit that quickly dissipated within the first 200 vertical feet or so. On March 23, we did not notice any wind slab in our location.

 

 

 

Avalanche ObservationsNone

NUM

SIZE

LOC

TRIGGER

 

TYPE

INC

ASP

ELEV

COMMENTS:

(Est. Depth, Width, Failure Layer, Timing)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 For a quick reference of snow profile notation click here.
For a full reference check Snow, Weather, and Avalanche Guidelines.

 

 

Observation – 3/20/2014 – John F. Stevens Canyon, Lewis Range, Glacier National Park

BNSF RAILWAY AVALANCHE SAFETY
VOLUNTARY FIELD OBSERVATIONS
(406) 863-0476 Email: richard.steiner@bnsf.com 

 

 

DATE
SUBMITTED:

TIME SUBMITTED:

OBSERVATION LOCATION

OBSERVATION
DATE:

SUBMITTED BY:

3/21/2014

        0800

Shed 4 SZ

3/20/2014

Steiner

GENERAL INFORMATION:

Ascended the looker’s right of the Burnout avalanche path to the east ridge of Snowslip Mountain.  Followed ridge to approximately 5,800 feet elevation and conducted a full snow profile.  Skinning conditions on ascent were good the entire way with many terrain features well buried and new snow to work with.  Trail breaking snow depths varied between 10 and 45 cm.  Descent conditions above 5600 feet were fair with 20 to 30 cm new snow with moderate density on a breakable crust.  Below 5600 conditions worsened as the new surface snow became far denser and underlying snow was moist and not supportive. Difficult skiing. No shooting cracks, snowpack collapsing, or audible failures.

WEATHER OBSERVATIONS:

Overcast skies with light snow and a light to moderate west wind.  Wind transport of new snow was occurring at ridgeline elevation onto easterly aspects. Air temperatures on the Canyon floor hovered around freezing or just above.  Air temperatures at upper elevations remained below freezing all day.  In the past week, 30 to 60+ cm of new snowfall has occurred in the Program Area at all elevations.

 

SNOWPACK OBSERVATIONS:

Conducted a full profile on a 32 degree East/ Northeast aspect at 5,800 feet elevation located in a periphery starting zone of Shed 4.  Snowpack depth was 300 cm (10 feet).

 

  • No significant temperature gradients throughout snowpack. Avg. T -20 C from snowpack surface to 60 cm from surface.  From 60 cm below the surface to the ground, steady snowpack temperature at 00C. t
  • Snowpack was dry throughout until the lower 30 cm which was moist.
  • Main layer of concern at this profile location was an interface of a thin decomposing crust and thin layer of mixed form snow grains located at 150 cm from the snowpack surface.  This interface was NOT obvious in the profile sidewall and not reactive to ECT or CT stability tests. However, this layer was sensitive to Shovel Shear Tests with repeated results of the Shovel Shear Test. (STE X 2).
  • Please note: the Shovel Shear Test is not quantitative in nature but rather qualitative and is a good indicator of where the snow could fail in shear and associated weak layer strength.

Also conducted a Test Pit at 5400 feet elevation on a 37 degree southeast aspect.  Snowpack at this location was 170 cm in depth and MOIST throughout.  Although layering could still be identified throughout, it appears liquid water has affected the entire snowpack and no layers were reactive to either ECT or CT stability tests.

 

AVALANCHE OBSERVATIONS:

No recent avalanche activity observed.

BNSF AVALANCHE SAFETY FIELD OBSERVATIONS SUBMITTED TO FLATHEAD AVALANCHE CENTER AND GLACIER NATIONAL PARK ARE BEING PROVIDEDED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS SPECIFIED GLACIER NATIONAL PARK SPECIAL USE PERMIT.  

THESE OBSERVATIONS REPRESENT SITE SPECIFIC INFORMATION INTENDED FOR THE BNSF AVALANCHE SAFETY PROGRAM AND IN NO WAY ARE TO BE CONSTRUED AS A PUBLIC/ RECREATION AVALANCHE FORECAST. 

For a quick reference of snow profile notation click here.
For a full reference check Snow, Weather, and Avalanche Guidelines.

03_20_14Shed 4D

Observation – 3/19/2014 – Snowshed Mountain, Flathead Range

March 19, 2014 Observations from a tour in the Central Flathead Range:

Objectives: to investigate the snowpack above the most recent rain/snow lines (3/14 and 3/16), search for deeper crust/facet combos, recent and older wind slabs and/or other instabilities; and find fun, reasonably safe skiing.

General info:

Camped at 2100 meters on night of 3/18.  Weather that afternoon had included periods of intense snow showers (up to 3cm/hour) with light and variable winds.  Temp at 17:00 was -6 degrees C.  Trailbreaking had been arduous above 1860 meters, where the last Sunday’s storm had dumped 30 plus cm of dense snow and a similar amount had fallen Monday through Tuesday.  Below  1650 meters trailbreaking had been easy, with 10-15 cm of new snow on top of a supportive crust.  (Below the crust was isothermal mush.)  Climbed on low-angle N-facing slopes in the trees and experienced no whumpfing or cracking.  Above 2100 meters trailbreaking was considerably easier in lighter density snow.

Avalanche info:

Saw no evidence of recent natural avalanches on wind-loaded terrain near Mount Adams, peak 7798, or anywhere else, except for small sluffs on steep solar-affected slopes. (On descent, at 17:15 observed a small recent natural avalanche at 2000 meter elevation with a crown 10-15 cm deep and 30 meters wide that ran 30 meters.  This was on a 38 degree rollover  in a NE-facing gully that has a substantial wind-funnel/fetch immediately above it.   (See attached photos.)

Weather info:

 @ 11:30 am @ 2235 meters: -10 degrees C. Partly cloudy.  Gusty SW winds up to 10m/s.

Observed moderate snow transport onto N through E facing slopes at my location, though big snow plumes were visible off the higher peaks, and wind loading was apparent in an adjacent NE-facing corniced bowl. (photo)

Test Profile info:

NW-facing 35 degree slope near the ridgetop at 2235 meters. 

H.S. Excavated down 200cm, and buried a 240cm probe below that without hitting ground.

Boot penetration: 75cm.  Ski penetration: 32cm.

Hardness, measured from the surface: 0-40cm: F; 40-70cm: 4F; 70-110cm 1F; 110-200cm P. (photo)

Did not find rain crusts in top 200cm of snow.  Did find a few density changes not revealed in hand hardness tests.  (photo)

Test results:

2x CTE @ 20cm Q3 (scores: 5 and 7)

2x CTH @ 40cm Q3 (scores: 24 and 25)

ECTN 10 @ 20cm

Ski cut small moderately wind-loaded rollovers up to 40 degrees with no results.

Skied NW through N-facing wind-sheltered slopes up to 35 degrees without incident.  Skiing quality was excellent. 

At 2100 meters it was -6 degrees C and snowing at 1cm/hour with moderate SW winds at 17:00

At 1160 meters it was 2 degrees C and snowing at less than 1/cm per hour at 18:00.

 

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