It rained hard last saturday. Then it froze. The snow is now hard as a rock and unlikely to move unless we see another rain event or a day of strong solar radiation. If this is the case then we may see some loose wet slides. With the current weather forecast slab avalanches are unlikely, if we see another significant warmup deeper slabs could release on buried rain crusts or at the ground level where the snow is sitting on a rock slab surface. Snowmobiler or skier input is unlikely to trigger such an event.
BOTTOM LINE: With multiple freeze-thaw cycles under our belt the snow is about as solid as it can get. The hazard out there will be created by warm temps or rain. Pay attention to changing conditions such as rain on snow or rapid heating caused by solar radiation.
Check out the Panhandle forecast by clicking the link below!
On Monday March 20th we travelled into the Libby Creek drainage. We were able to observe the aftermath of multiple deep slab avalanches that released during Saturdays rain event. There were some climax avalanches observed as well that had released down to the ground on rocky slabs. We did observe multiple "Glide Cracks" as well in areas where there is known rock slab underneath. These glide cracks are unpredictable and dangerous but will only cause a problem in warm conditions when the snowpack weakens and the bed surface is lubricated with meltwater.
Despite the remnants of carnage, the snowpack was now cold and hard. Even the areas taking the sun stayed firm and icy throughout the day. The real hazard out there right now is staying on your feet.
Avalanche debris at the base of Ojibway Mt.
Backcountry Forecast from NWS Missoula issued:
300 PM MDT Mon Mar 20 2017
DISCUSSION: Light precipitation will gradually spread northward
across the region today, reaching the Canadian border by Tuesday
morning. Snow levels will range from 6000 feet across the south
to valley floors up north but accumulations will be light. Breezy
easterly winds are also expected later today into tonight.
Beginning Tuesday and lasting through the week, frequent
disturbances will lead to a showery pattern with temperatures at
--------------------------- 5000-7000 FT ----------------------------
Tonight Tue Tue Night Wed
Cloud Cover 85% 95% 95% 95%
Hi/Lo Temps 22 to 29 36 to 44 29 to 35 37 to 45
Winds(mph) E 11 SE 8 S 6 SW 9
Precip Chc 60 60 80 80
Precip Type snow sno/shr showers showers
Liquid Amt 0.05 0.07 0.34 0.20
Snow Amt(in) 0-1 0-1 0-3 0-2
Snow Level 3000 3500 6500 5500
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.