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Valid until Monday February 13th 2012
Next update Sunday Feb 12th 2012
Confidence: Fair although freezing levels and snow amounts differ from North to East Island. Always check local conditions.
Main Concerns: (Avalanche problems)
Wet loose - At Alpine elevations all aspects on steep or unconsolidated slopes and in gullies. Avalanches from small to large enough to bury, injure or kill a person could occur. These are possible to be triggered naturally by wet snow and warm temperatures and possible by skiers, snowboarders or sledders cutting surface slides on prone slopes. As the weekend continues cooling temps and clearing should decrease the hazard.
Cornices - At Tree Line and in the Alpine from West through North to north east aspects. Warming temperatures, wet snow or humans could all trigger cornice fall small to large size, which could in turn trigger slab avalanches. As the weekend continues cooling temps will decrease the hazard.
Storm Slab - in the Alpine on all aspects. Human triggering is possible on steeper terrain. The avalanche size is smaller, to Medium. As the weekend continues cooling temps and clearing trend should decrease the hazard.
Wind Slab - In the highest Alpine and on West through North to East aspects. Localized thinner Wind slab may form over Saturday and early Sunday. Triggering is always easier when the slab is thinner, avalanche size should be less than enough to kill or injure a person.
Weather: The melt down is almost over. Friday saw more rain 20 to 30 mm and only wet snow above 1500m. The outlook: is for steady snow Saturday above 1000m tapering off later in the day giving 10 to 12 cm accumulations. Winds SSE to moderate. Freezing levels cooler for the East island 1200m to 800m while the North and West island are a bit warmer1300 to 1000m. Sunday flurries give 6 to 12 cm snow depending on location with moderate SE winds that switch to northerly and back down. Cooling continues Sunday and into Monday with the freezing levels dropping from 800m + - to 300m by Sunday night and rising on Monday with some clearing or sun.
At and Below Tree Line a wet rain
soaked upper snow pack 20 to 30 mm Thursday/Friday. In the Alpine wet snow is now
capping this wet layer. One very light crust 15 cm down is producing
easy shears and second thicker crust down 35 to 60 cm moderate shears.
The December crust is buried quite deeply, 120 cm to 200cm, and should
not react; however large triggers and rain loading and weakening of the
upper snow pack makes this unlikely event more conceivable. The lower
snow pack is generally very strong.
I suspect most wet loose snow has sloughed off anything steep. Suspect some cornice fall but none reported. Size 2 naturals in the Mt Myra area 4 days ago; Wet loose avalanches widespread on steeper aspects 2 days ago, isolated deep slabs Size 2 on steep unsupported terrain North aspects 3 days ago.
- Pay attention to overhead hazards like cornices, give them a wide berth whether you are above or below them. The possibility of a cornice drop is more likely with the recent weather and could trigger larger avalanches that might propagate laterally into adjacent terrain.
- Be cautious as you transition into wind affected terrain.
- Storm Slab/Wind slab hazard could exist on slopes steeper than 35 degrees only at higher elevations.
Later Saturday if cooling arrives and the snow stops falling 'Normal Caution' is advised.
Prepared by Niko Weis