East Aspects

Location Name: 
East Aspects
Williams Lake Area
Date and time of observation: 
Tue, 01/10/2017 - 13:34
Location Map: 
United States
36° 33' 33.6456" N, 105° 26' 40.9812" W

Red Flags: 
Recent loading by new snow, wind, or rain

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

Lots of wind effect out there today at all elevations and aspects.  Wind is our friend and our enemy.  If everything was created equal we would have an equal amount of snow on similar aspects and elevations, but wind is a major reason why that is not the case.  Especially here in Northern New Mexico where spatial variablilty is tremendous.  I have a photo and two videos from East aspects between 11,500' and 12,200' and  all tell a very diffrent story.  Wind slabs today ranged from a couple of inches to 2 + feet.  Some areas were scoured down to ground and we dug a pit today that had 16 feet of snow in it.  Wind is a pretty incredible force on snow and today was a great example of that.  Wind slabs up high below ridgelines were firm 1 Finger to Rime Ice and ranged from 6" to 2'.  Near treeline, wind slabs varied but tended to be 2" to a 1' .  Graupel was everywhere from ridgetops to the parking lots but see the video that shows where graupel is pooling!

Take home point is that we see an incredible amount of spatial variability and a big part of that is the wind.  I tried to show you the same aspect with similar elevations and how much they varied.  Use your heads when traveling in the backcountry right now, and spend a little bit of time investigating what it is you want to ski.  

Photo 1: East Aspect around 12,000' These tracks were ours from over a week ago that have become inverted with the recent wind.  This East aspect was completely scoured.

Photo 2: Big Horn Sheep enjoying the grass on a wind swept ridgeline.

Video 1: 16 Foot snowpack on a East Aspect at 12,200' .  I talk about trigger points and how we are not influencing some of the persistent slab layers that are insulated right now on that slope.  We haven't received anywhere near 16 feet of snow but this was an incredibly wind loaded chute.

Video 2: An amazing amount of Graupel that was pooling below cliffs on an East aspect around 11,500'.  There was over a foot of graupel that had pooled below a 2" wind slab,  Be cautious of areas below cliffs especially with any more of load on top.  This might be a concern for our next storm on Friday!

Snowpack photos: 
Weather Observations
Blowing Snow: 
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