New Snow, wind loading and recent avalanche activity

Lakes Basin, TJ Bowl
Submission Info
Tuesday, March 17, 2020 - 2:30pm
Red Flags: 
Recent avalanche activity
Whumphing noises, shooting cracks, or collapsing
Recent loading by new snow, wind, or rain
37° 34' 49.2672" N, 119° 0' 27.3888" W
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 

The weather was beautiful this morning as we left the Tamarack trailhead and made our way across lake Mary towards the Hamil bowl.  Skies were clear, temps were cold, and light to moderate winds were blowing out of the SW. 

Crossing the lake, we noticed a sizable avalanche above the TJ bowl and decided to shift our goals to get a closer look at this. We were grateful for those who broke trail as we made our way up to our high point at 10600’. New snow totals in the mid-elevation ranged from 40-60 cm and I’m sure breaking the trail was no easy task.

Winds certainly increased overnight and through the morning and signs of wind transport were evident at all elevations. flagging on the ridgelines were obvious as we left the car, drifting and textured surfaces were rampant throughout the tour and we managed to find some terrain features near treeline that were sensitive to human trigger.  These deposits were 1F hard, roughly ~60cm deep and moved on the old snow surface.  While we observed surprisingly little slab development given the amount of low-density snow that is available for transport, I would be very suspect of catchment zones near and above treeline. Particularly if these moderate to strong winds continue.

 We descended via TJ bowl to get a closer look at the natural avalanche mentioned above. (and described here). Located on a Northeast aspect at 10200’ this avalanche was an HS-N-R2-D2-I. Minimal amounts of new snow have covered the bed surface and some of the debris but we found the crown to range from 2-2.5 FT deep and the total run to be around 1000’ in length. The debris was quite chunky and traveled over multiple cliff bands and through stands of small trees. 

Around Noon today, the clouds started to build, winds increased and snow began to fall. This drastically decreased our visibility and we decided to make our descent quickly. By the time we returned to the car at 330, snow was a steady S1 and winds were consistently moderate at ~9000’ 

There is no doubt that recent events in the world are leading to increased traffic in the backcountry. I can honestly say I have never seen so many cars at the tamarack trailhead. It's important to remember that avalanches do not discriminate and new snow almost always brings increased hazard. Stay safe out there everyone!

Snowpack photos: 
Weather Observations
Blowing Snow: 
Cloud Cover: 
75% of the sky covered by clouds
Air temperature: 
Below Freezing
Wind Speed: 
Air temperature trend: 
Wind Direction: 
Accumulation rate: 
More detailed information about the weather: 

increasing clouds afternoon brought moderate to heavy snowfall and increased SW winds. temperatures remained well below freezing  ~20 at lower elevations and mid-teens at mid-elevations.

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