Snow pit findings in VA lakes

Blue Lake
Submission Info
Sunday, February 16, 2020 - 12:45pm
Red Flags: 
38° 2' 56.6556" N, 119° 16' 23.4948" W
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 

I toured past Blue lake from the end of the road in Virginia lakes today to get on multiple aspects within the NTL elevations. Today's forecasted cloud cover did not materialize today and the strong westerly winds did little to temper the solar impact on surface conditions. The snow surface was soft and moist in the sun as I left the cart mid-morning. Looking around the basin multiple peaks had significant plumes of blowing snow. I also noted a surprising amount of snow blowing across slopes at lower elevations. 

I dug two pits today one on a shaded north facing aspect on the flanks of Black mtn and the other on a SE aspect on the SW side of Dunderberg. 

In the first location, a protected treed area at 10100’ on a directly North facing aspect, I found 98 cm of cold and dry snow. In this location, the snowpack is composed almost completely of large faceted grains and several MF crusts. A couple of the MF crusts are only a few millimeters thick and clear hard ice, while others were thicker and more decomposed. While the snowpack was weak and unconsolidated, it was mostly right side up, and my tests did not highlight any particularly concerning results. 

Across the valley, on a SE aspect at 10300’ in the sun, I found 70 of snow. At this location, the entire snowpack was moist with the top 20 cm or so being MF crust and the lower snowpack composed primarily of moist facets with one solid crust in the middle of the pack. Boot penetration at this location was almost knee-deep, and I have to admit I was taken by how unconsolidated this area was as well as the high moisture content of the pack, particularly at the ground level.

After returning to the car, I chatted briefly with a group who had climbed and skied the south gully on Dunderberg. They had pulled the plug at about 11000’ when surface conditions started to feel pretty soft. They estimated boot pen to be about 30 cm. They did not report any roller balls, pinwheels, or other signs of instability. But I suspect the weak refreeze last night, and the mostly clear skies today led to a quicker than expected surface melt. 

Snowpit or crown profile photo or graph: 
Snowpack photos: 
Weather Observations
Blowing Snow: 
Cloud Cover: 
50% of the sky covered by clouds
Air temperature: 
Above Freezing
Wind Speed: 
Air temperature trend: 
Wind Direction: 
Accumulation rate: 
More detailed information about the weather: 

Mostly clear skies today with temperatures just above freezing at 10,000’. Sustained strong winds out of the west kept things feeling chilly in the shade. 


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