Forecaster Observation - Cascade/Rescue Creek, Flathead Range

Location Name: 
Forecaster Observation - Cascade Creek, Flathead Range
Flathead Range - Middle Fork Corridor
Date and time of observation: 
Wed, 03/02/2016 - 14:00
Location Map: 

Red Flags: 
Recent loading by new snow, wind, or rain

Observation made by: Forecaster
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 

Today we toured into Cascade Creek in the Flathead Range to examine the snowpack in all elevation bands. The low elevation (<5000 ft.) at this location is transitioning to a very spring-like snowpack that is uniform and homogeneous. The surface snow at this elevation is moist to wet (either wet snow or rain saturated. The mid-elevation band (5000-6000 feet) is certainly the transition zone between winter and spring snowpacks. At this location there was another rain crust at the surface from 5000-5500 feet and then above 5500 feet there was a rain crust with 1-4 inches of new snow on top of this crust. The upper elevation is certainly still winter like with a strong mid-pack consiting of a series of crusts, rounds, and rounding facets. The upper snowpack consists of  buried surface hoar 6 inches fron the surface up to 14 inches in more wind-loaded areas. As of now the surface hoar was largely unreactive, but this layer fractured in Extended Column Tests (no propagation) and Compression Tests. 

Stability test results on an east aspect at 6600 ft. 

ECTN 10 at 28 cm from the surface on graupel above a 1 cm thick melt-freeze crust 

CT 10 Q3 at 28 cm from the surface on graupel above a melt-freeze crust 

Stability test results on a north aspect at 6500 ft.

ECTN 14 at 15 cm from the surface on buried surface hoar sitting on top of a very thin (<1 cm) melt-freeze crust

CT 15 at 15 cm from the surface on buried surface hoar sitting on top of a very thin (<1 cm) melt-freeze crust

Wind slabs existed but were very stubborn and seemed pretty glued to the old snow surface at least in this location. I suspect that in the upper elevation alpine areas, these wind slabs were more susceptible to human triggering. We observed wind loading on east, northeast, and crossloading on southeast aspects, but snow transport was fairly minimal later in the day. The snow surface certainly had texture of wind pillows.

Snowpack photos: 
Weather Observations
Blowing Snow: 
Cloud Cover: 
100% of the sky covered by clouds
Air temperature: 
Below Freezing
Wind Speed: 
Moderate (Small trees sway)
Mixed rain and snow
Wind Direction: 
Accumulation rate: 
Less than 1 in. per hour
More detailed information about the weather: 

Our tour was in the afternoon, and precipitation had tapered by then with minimal (less than 1 cm) accumulation in the afternoon. However, there was 6-14 inches of new snow above the melt-freeze crust and surface hoar from last weekend. 

Precip Rate: 
S -1; very light snowfall, trace to 0.5cm/hour