jan 4th Observations and Snow Profile near Leavitt Lake Rd Junction

Location Name: 
Leavitt Lake Rd Junction
Date and time of observation: 
Wed, 01/04/2017 - 13:00
Location Map: 

Red Flags: 
Whumphing noises, shooting cracks, or collapsing
Recent loading by new snow, wind, or rain

Observation made by: Avalanche Specialist
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 

Rode up 108 to the Leavitt Lake Rd junction.  Snow was deep and the winds were strong, luckily the MCMWTC groomer was already up there working the road.  He said he had trouble making past the 2nd creek crossing and had to turn around.  At 1pm. I measured 27" of new snow ontop of an additional 6" of new snow from Monday at the junction at 8500'.   I poked around in the snowpack a bit on my skis and experienced scary conditions with whooping and collapsing in the flats and long running cracks near the top of wind loaded gullies.  I remotely triggered several cornice collapses ontop of some small gullies with shooting cracks stepping back much further than expected.

I dug a pit on a small slopes just above the junction and found, as expected, unstable results.  The new snow from this most recent storm is upside down, meaning denser snow ontop of softer snow.  Stability tests revealed most issues with this interface, about 1.5' below the surface, with propagation and sudden collapse after 11-12 hits.  Additonally, there is a layer of facets which formed on the surface during last week's high pressure and is now buried nearly 3 ft below the surface and is likely much deeper at higher elevations .  This layer propogated a fracture after 20 hits.  It is likely that an avalanche fracturing in the storm snow interface or from a wind slab could step down to the facet layer leading to a very large, deep, and unsurvivable slide  Right now, the snowpack is quite unstable and will take some time to heal.  It is highly reccomended to stay off and away from any slope steeper than 32 degrees as human triggered avalanches are likely.

Snowpack photos:

Photo 1:  MCMWTC groomer working through the deep snow near the Leavitt Lake Rd junction

Photo 2:  Remotely triggerd cornice collapse on top of a small cliff band near the junction

Photo 3:  A look at the different layering of the cornice collapse, with denser wind slab on top of softer new snow

Photo 4:  Long running crack associtated with another cornice collapse on top of a small gully about a 1/2 mile up Leavitt Lake Rd 

Snowpit or crown profile photo or graph: 
Snowpack photos: 
Snowpit videos (tests, etc): 

Bridgeport Avalanche Center Jan 4th Observation

Any other comments about the observation or links to outside pages that have more info on the observation: 

108 has snow cover all the way down to the people's gate and the road has been packed/groomed by the MWTC, though it is uncertain how far up Leavitt Lake Rd they made it due to deep snowfall and whiteout conditions yesterday.

Weather Observations
Blowing Snow: 
Cloud Cover: 
100% of the sky covered by clouds
Air temperature: 
Below Freezing
Wind Speed: 
Air temperature trend: 
Wind Direction: 
Accumulation rate: 
Greater than 1 in. per hour
More detailed information about the weather: 

Very strong winds, heavy snow, and temperatures just below freezing at 8500'