*We received a report from 2 skiers today (Monday) that they were caught in a natural wind slab avalanche yesterday while climbing the SE Gully of Mt. Baldwin. While the avalanche danger was unlikely, this avalanche did occur in the type of terrain that the advisory mentioned would be possible for wind slabs that day. Namely southerly facing, high elevation extreme terrain where NE winds could deposit small amounts of loose snow. It is not know for certain, but it seems likely that yesteday's warm daytime temperatures and sunny skies warmed up sourounding rocks leading to warming of the recent wind slab resulting in it's release. This seems especially likely as the timing of the release at 12:30pm was at the height of yesterday's daytime temperatures as well as the height of sun exposure on this SE facing terrain. Click here for a thoughtfull detailed report from the party caught. Thankfully they were not more seriously injured.
Although NE winds are projected to continue thru New Years Day, the colder temperatures and less and less snow available for transport will decrease the likelihood of a similar avalanche happening. That doesn't mean that avalanches will be impossible!
With cold temperatures and clear night-time skies persisting thru this week, the snowpack will continue to facet, especially in areas where it is particularly thin (which unfortunately is most areas). While not a stability concern now, if and when we get substantial new snow loads, these weak layers could present a larger avalanche threat. Keep note of how the snowpack is faceting, as well as if you see areas of feathery surface hoar persisting on top of the snow.