New light snow accumulations combined with the Moderate SE winds will be the main driver of potential avalanche activity today. Wise terrain choice and identifying where potential hazards lurk will be the key with reduced visibility and blowing snow. We are on the cusp of a large storm cycle, with plenty of good skiing in the near future, so keeping track of changing conditions and the differences in how slopes look now compared to a few days out will be great information in the data bank to inform oneself on how winds and the mountain environment captured new snow loads.
In regards to our PERSISTENT SLAB, the interface between our floating slab (35-60cm thick from 1/5-6 storm) and older faceted snow (30-40cm) is around 50 to 60cm below the surface and in many cases there is a dramatic difference in hardness with the newer slab being between 1F-4F and the faceted layer below residing in very loose (F) conditions. These conditions are spatially variable throughout the forecast zone, and seem to be more prevalent at and below tree line where old snow remained sheltered and was allowed to facet and decompose during our relatively cold December temperatures. Although the faceted (F) layer is also present in the alpine it has been observed to be rounding, more compressed, and there have not been any reports of collapsing or avalanches on this layer to date. Likely increased wind effects and deeper relative snowpack has contributed to a less sensitive faceted layer in the alpine regions.