Avalanche Advisory

Issued: Thursday, February 16, 2017 7:00 AM Forecaster: Victor McNeil

Primary Problem

Secondary Problem


After a week of warm temperatures and little snow accumulation, the local mountains are heading back into winter. By the end of the weekend, forecasts are showing snowfall totals approaching 2’, with the heaviest snowfall today and Saturday. Winds are howling this morning with gusts recorded into the 50’s in the Northern Wallowa’s. The new snow will be falling on a variety of surfaces, from a melt freeze crust on S-W aspects up to 8,500’ and cold snow on N-NE aspects above 7,500’. With the amount of new snow and wind in the forecast, caution should be assumed on Wind Loaded terrain on N-E aspects at and above tree line. On S-W aspects expect to see Snow Sliding on the Crust, until it has enough time to adhere.


We are now offering the Kip Rand Memorial Hat as a way to remember the former director of the Wallowa Avy Center. Kip was a great friend and a great director. These commemorative hats can be purchased for $25 or free with a $50 donation. You can go to www.wallowaavalanchecenter.org and click the Donate Now button and pay via Pay Pal (insert that you want a Kip hat in notes), or you can send a check to PO Box 324 Joseph, OR 97846 and leave a note. Remember Kip Rand and help support the WAC.

Recent Activity

No recent activity to report. Keep updated with Facebook https://www.facebook.com/wallowaavalanchecenter/ and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/?hl=en through the weekend as conditions change.

Current Conditions

At 5 AM temperatures are still above freezing and the winds are strong, blowing out of the SSW in the Wallowa’s and Elkhorn’s. Northern Wallowa’s: At Mt. Howard it was 31° with a S wind at 20 MPH with gusts recorded at 45 MPH. Salt Creek Summit was reporting 36° with a SSW wind at 24 MPH. The Aneroid Lake Snotel was registering 35°. The Aneroid Snotel was above freezing last night, but does show some new accumulation, which may be rain or very heavy snow. Elkhorn’s: Anthony Lakes was reporting 29° with winds from the S at 19 MPH and gusts in the 30’s. No new snow was reported at A-Lakes. Southern Wallowa’s: The Schneider Meadow’s Snotel at 5,400’ was reporting 34° this morning. There was some precipitation at the Snotel, but may have come in the form of rain as temperatures did not dip below freezing last night. The Wallowa’s and Elkhorn’s have seen above average temperatures in the past 48 hours, with area Snotel sites recording max temperatures into the upper 40’s up to nearly 8,000’. We also haven’t had a hard freeze in the past 48 hours below 8,000’ with the temperature inversion. As we enter the weekend, weather forecasts are showing an active weather pattern, with lowering snow levels, strong winds from the SW and over 1’-2’ of snow. Today looks to be very stormy with 5-9” in the forecast for the Northern Wallowa’s and Elkhorn’s accompanied by winds in the 20’s-30’s by this afternoon. On Friday there will be a short break in the action, but then snowfall will return Friday night into Saturday. Expect wintery conditions through next week. There is a wind advisory in place for the Northern Wallowa’s this morning until 4 PM.

Avalanche Problem #1

Expect wind loading and cross loading on N-E aspects at and above tree line over the next few days. Winds are forecasted out of the S-SW-W into the 20’s through Sunday. Use caution on wind-loaded terrain >35 degrees as the weight of a skier or snowmobiler could tip the balance. Keep an eye out for the Natural Red Flags: shooting cracks, whumphing, strong winds and heavy precipitation. Stay clear of cornices, as many of them were weakened last Thursday with warm temperatures and rain on snow. I’ve noticed some cornices that were very close to collapsing this week and may only need the weight of a skier or rider to get them to release.


Increasing over next 48+ hours


Avalanche Problem #2

Forecasts are predicting up to 2’ of snowfall by Sunday night. If the mountains do receive significant snowfall in a short time period, use caution on slopes >35°, especially on S-W aspects. This new snow will have some weight to it and will take some time to bond to the melt freeze crust on solar aspects. The heaviest snowfall should occur today and Saturday. Daytime highs will be hovering around freezing, with lows in the mid 20’s overnight. The snow level will be around 3,500’-4,500’ through Sunday.

Increasing over next 72 hours


Mountain Weather

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General Annoucement

Michael Hatch will be issuing the next advisory on Thursday, February 23rd at 7AM. Stay updated with conditions via Facebook and Instagram. Please submit any observations you have as well on our observations page.

DISCLAIMER: This advisory does not apply to developed ski areas and avalanche terrain affecting highways.