Avalanche Report for Southern Cairngorms

Issued

Avalanche Hazard Forecast

FOR PERIOD 18:00 Sat 20/12/2014 TO 18:00 Sun 21/12/2014

Hazard level
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Low
Human triggered avalanches not likely. Generally safe travel conditions.
Moderate
Human triggered avalanches are possible, so good visibility and good route selection is important, especially in steep locations as indicated in the reports. Groups should be managed carefully, keeping good spacing between people to reduce loading on slopes.
Considerable
Natural avalanches may occur - and a single person load is likely to trigger an avalanche on some slopes. Good visibility and route finding in mountain terrain is important, as is experience in avalanche hazard evaluation.
High
Natural avalanches will occur - and a single person load will trigger an avalanche on some slopes. Good visibility and good route-finding in mountain terrain is essential, as is experience in avalanche hazard evaluation.
Very High
Widespread natural avalanches will occur - and a single person load will trigger an avalanche on most slopes. Good visibility and good route-finding in mountain terrain is essential, as is experience in avalanche hazard evaluation.
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The avalanche hazard will be Considerable

Forcasted Snow Stability & Avalanche Hazard

As the thaw conditions take effect, recently developed windslab, which is on North through East to South aspects above 700 metres will become increasingly unstable and avalanches are likely. Greatest hazard will be in gully exits and on scarp slopes, some of which have unstable cornices above them. Recently scoured slopes will remain stable. The avalanche hazard will be Considerable.

Forcasted Weather Influences

The freezing level will rise overnight with rain at all levels. Storm force winds will be from the South-West.

Key Snow Stability Observations

What do these icons mean?

Observed Avalanche Hazard -

The avalanche hazard is Considerable

Observed Weather Influences

There was some overnight snow but it was a largely dry day. It remained cold with very strong winds from the West and North-West.

Observed Snow Stability and Avalanche Hazard

Pockets of deep unstable windslab have formed in very sheltered locations mainly on North-East to South-East aspects above 800 metres. Isolated areas of windslab were also noted on North and South aspects. Most of these areas are avoidable on open terrain with any area exposed to the strong wind scoured and stable. The avalanche hazard is Considerable.

Comments

Thaw conditions due to arrive overnight.

Weekly Snowpack Summary
  
  • In early December strong winds, mostly from the West, accompanied by snow showers led to unstable windslab developing in some locations. The recent mild temperatures have helped consolidate the snowpack but with some snow loss particularly at lower levels. A couple of minor avalanches were reported, one apparently triggered by a ski-tourer.

    The snow has continued to slowly thaw but has remained well bonded throughout the week. Snow cover is patchy, more extensive areas above 850 metres with burn lines and gullies holding most. Glide cracks continue to develop, particularly round corrie rims where there is still deep snow.

    With the freezing levels above the summits and no significant precipitation the snowpack has been slowly thawing and consolidating for the last week. Snow cover is still reasonable above 750 metres but the ground is starting to break through in some locations. Many cornices have gone but steep poor quality snow often bars the exits of gullies.

    Snowfall and drifting led to new unstable accumulations forming earlier in the week but overall stability was improved by fluctuating temperatures. Most of the snowpack has become moist but well bonded with some areas of moderately bonded snow mostly but not exclusively restricted to NW to E facing corries. More cornices have collapsed but there are still many left.

    The snowpack has continued to thaw with significant snow loss, particularly under 800 metres. Although soft, cover has remained well bonded for most of this period. Glide cracks have been growing in some locations with cornice collapse, rock and ice fall also observed. There is a return to wintery conditions with snowfall today and a drop in the freezing level.

    We started this period with some avalanche activity and collapsing cornices but the last few days have seen a settled period both from the weather and the snow. Currently the snowpack surface layers have refrozen but there are much softer layers deeper within the snow. There are also plenty of old cornices that can fall and act as a trigger.

    As well as a reasonable amount of new snow, we've had a few thaw freeze cycles resulting in a quite a few avalanches throughout the area. Weaker layers have developed deeper within the snowpack and were exposed where triggered by cornice collapse. Otherwise stability continues to improve.

    The most significant event this week was Sunday's thaw. There was a lot of rain which helped trigger multiple avalanches throughout the area. Since then stability has generally improved, as there has has not been too much new snow but there has been reasonable amounts of drifting every day. New pockets of windslab have developed on NW,N,NE and E aspects at higher altitudes and in some places are poorly bonded. Cornices continue to re-develop.

    It was a slightly calmer week which was mostly cloudy. There was less snowfall than on previous days and we had rain on a couple of occasions. A number of crown walls or avalanche debris have been reported with the likely trigger being cornices, some of which are very big. Currently after last nights thaw snow cover is mostly wet and soft but had already started to re-freeze this afternoon above 800 metres. Cover remains good on most aspects from 600 m, deepest on W through N to E.

    We have had significantly more snow but less so in the latter half of the week. Stability is slowly improving but the winds have been variable, leaving localised windslab in many sheltered locations from 600 metres and deeper areas on NW,N and NE aspects above 800 metres.

    Very strong S/SE winds and snowfall, heavy at times has resulted in substantial accumulations above 750 metres, mostly on W through N to E aspects. Extensive areas of moderately bonded windslab was to be found in sheltered locations. There have been a number of avalanches, but due to the high winds and poor visibility it has been not practical to visit and record details yet. Recent quick thaws to summit level have helped stability with some snow loss at lower altitudes.

    We have continued to have significant snowfall at times as well as brief thaws to summit level. In the latter half of the week we had a slight change with snowfall from the East. The winds have moved much of the snow around and as a result we have a mix of ice,deep drifts and windslab on many aspects, mainly above 800 metres. Currently there are very deep accumulations on West to Northerly aspects which have weaker layers and are sitting on hard icy bases.

    This week has been windy with snow showers throughout. Although there is very little snow below 800 metres, above 850 metres or so there is good cover. Windslab has been mostly on NW through to E aspects all week with avalanche debris noted on some of these aspects. Fluctuating temperatures has helped with consolidation but instabilities were persisting in many locations.

    From around 750 metres there has been a well bonded and stable snowpack for most of the week. Towards the end of the week there have been two periods of fresh snowfall that were followed by a rapid thaw and subsequent refreeze of the snowpack.

    A number of thaw freeze cycles, which were slowly stabilising the snowpack, was followed by a more substantial thaw. This left a moist soft snowpack at all levels which was then frozen as the freezing level dropped again. Currently we have good firm cover above 850 metres on most aspects.

    It has been an unsettled period with strong winds mostly from a SW,S and SE direction and a mix of snow showers and rain. Areas of windslab developed on mainly W through N to E aspects above 900 metres. Stability has been improved due to a number of thaw-freeze cycles but some weaknesses persisted in deeper deposits on steep terrain. Generally there is now good cover above 800 metres which is icy in come locations.

    A complicated week with snowfall, very strong variable winds and a quick melt freeze cycle. Windward slopes are scored whilst lee slopes have filled in with sheltered locations holding deeper snow. Another weather event is imminent with conditions changing daily.

    There wasn't really too much to get excited about up until 24 hours ago. The last storm on Wednesday evening gave us a good amount of snowfall at most levels. The winds with this snow were very strong, 100 mph recorded on Cairnwell. So anything exposed is wind blasted, anything sheltered has reasonable depth of snow. Lower parts of gullies are still quite bare but at least the upper parts are starting to fill in.

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