Strong Winds and Reactive Windslabs In Virginia lakes

Virginia creek
Submission Info
Tuesday, March 24, 2020 - 1:00pm
Red Flags: 
Recent avalanche activity
Whumphing noises, shooting cracks, or collapsing
Recent loading by new snow, wind, or rain
38° 3' 0.0612" N, 119° 16' 35.7672" W
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 

Driving north on 395 from Mammoth this morning on the way to Virginia lakes the strong winds were actively stripping many of the high peaks of fresh snow and significant flagging was apparent.  I managed to spot a couple of sizable recent Natural avalanches as well. One sharp crown on Mt Lewis looked pretty fresh and one on the east side of Mt Gibbs that appeared to be the toe of a loose avalanche. (See pictures) 

Numerous recent avalanches were also noted on the north side of South peak, Black Mountain, and Red lake bowl. My best guess is that these occurred during the late afternoon or evening hours yesterday. Start zones were nearly all filled in and the debris fans were “soft” in appearance.

Given the elevated avalanche hazard and continued transport today I chose to keep to low angel terrain and travel up Virginia creek towards Excelsior mt. Strong SW winds kept things chilly throughout my tour despite thinner cloud cover than expected skies. Temperatures remained in the low 20°F and flurries of snow came and went throughout the day.

Recent drifting was apparent at all elevations and I observed blowing snow even in well-protected trees. Near treeline I managed to find a few small test slopes that were being actively loaded. Several of these steep rollovers had fresh cornice growth and I managed to find several small pockets of sensitive wind slab. All fairly shallow (4-8”) and about 4F+/F snow. I also observed cracking in less steep but equally loaded terrain. 

No other signs of Instability were observed today however it is worth noting that a grabby surface crust has formed on many sun-effected areas and this made for challenging skiing conditions.

Snowpack photos: 
Weather Observations
Blowing Snow: 
Cloud Cover: 
50% of the sky covered by clouds
Air temperature: 
Below Freezing
Wind Speed: 
Air temperature trend: 
Wind Direction: 
Accumulation rate: 
Less than 1 in. per hour
More detailed information about the weather: 
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