Snow conditions in Va Lakes

SNOWPACK OBSERVATION
Dunderberg
Submission Info
Forecaster
Saturday, February 8, 2020 - 1:30pm
38° 3' 46.836" N, 119° 15' 50.6232" W
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 

I ventured up the southeast face of Dunderberg this afternoon to get a sense of the extent of surface melt today. Leaving from the pack station a little before 11 this morning, the temperature was 40° F, skies were clear, and winds were light out of the west. Looking around the basin, the occasional spin drift and plumes of blowing snow on the upper ridgelines indicated that winds were gusting much stronger in less protected areas at higher elevations.  Weaving between exposed rock bands and reemerging vegetation, I made it to 11100’ before the increasingly thin conditions tipped the risk vs. reward equation towards the former. Moderate to strong winds did their best to keep surface conditions locked up on aspects that were receiving less than direct sunshine. Particularly at elevations near and above tree line.  At about 10500’ I found an interesting structure on a SE aspect. The total height of snow was 58 cm, ski pen was about 5 cm and my boot pen in this location was about 45 cm. The top 1 cm was weakly refrozen MF crust on top of about 8 cm of moist grains. Below this was a deteriorating MF crust (~1F hard and 2cm thick) which was sitting on large-grained basal facets. While this structure was not surprising or particularly odd considering what we have seen throughout the range, it was neat to such clear signs of the cooling effects of the wind and to see how supportive such a deteriorated MF crust was of my 190# frame while on my skis.  On my descent, I found the more southerly facing terrain was soft and pleasant corn skiing, while areas with less direct solar impact remained hard and less pleasant. Surface melt was much more pronounced at lower elevations and in areas protected from the wind. I found more than one area in the direct sun below treeline where boot penetration was 30+ cm of moist grains, likely a result of the past week of warm day time temps and the lack of a hard freeze last night. All in all, it was a beautiful day of dodging rocks in the high-country. I observed no significant signs of instability on today’s tour.

Weather Observations
Blowing Snow: 
Yes
Cloud Cover: 
Clear
Air temperature: 
Above Freezing
Wind Speed: 
Moderate
Air temperature trend: 
Warming
Wind Direction: 
West
More detailed information about the weather: 

Warm temperatures and sunny skies today made for a beautiful day in the mountains. Moderate to strong westerly winds kept surface conditions from feeling too spring like. 

11am- @9500’ 40°F light westerly winds, clear skies (BP=30cm moist grains)

12am- @10500’ 33°F Moderate westerly winds, clear skies (BP=45cm moist grains/MF/Facets)

1pm- @11100’ 34°F, Light westerly winds, clear skies (BP=25cm moist grains)

130pm-@9500’ 46°F, light winds clear skies (BP=30cm moist grains)

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