Today's quick field mission involved digging holes near several highway pullouts to observe how far the melt-water was penetrating into the snowpack on sunny, middle elevation slopes. Some thin ice lenses in the middle of the snowpack are keeping the weak, faceted snow near the ground from getting wet for now. It's difficult to predict (over a large area) if the melt-water will reach the deeply buried facets this week before it cools off over the weekend. My guess: we could see an uptick in deeper wet loose activity and possibly some isolated wet slabs in the next few days.
Partly cloudy most of the afternoon, but some convective clouds produced isolated flurries and graupel for a bit.
|D1||WL||N-Natural||Some fresher-looking slides on E-SE aspects on Saviers Peak in the Smoky Mtns. I'm unsure when these released.||None|
2-4PM, SW-S-SE 7800-8600': HS=60-90cm (I was targeting thinner areas, both wind affected and sheltered in clearings in the trees), top of 12/11 FC=about 30cm off the ground.
Water was reaching thin ice lenses in the upper 30-50% of the snowpack but had not eroded them yet. In the trees, boot pen was to the ground, crusts were quite fragile: probably not much or no freeze near tree cover the past couple nights. In more open terrain and especially previously wind-loaded, the bottom half of the pack had more structure and was hanging together OK. Boot pen was still >75% of the snowpack, but you weren't automatically walking on the ground.
12/11 FC were damp/moist but due to the overall warm temperature of the snowpack and not due to free water reaching that layer.
Comments: Shaded aspects and elevations in the location graphic are what I observed: We're on the "slow burn" program; will be interesting to see if the thin ice lenses in the middle of the snowpack make it through this week and prevent an increase in full depth wet loose slides.
I avoided avalanche terrain, nothing steeper than 30* as I was traveling in wet glop by myself and didn't need to get into steep terrain for what I was doing.