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February 17, 2003, Heather Ridge

WA Stevens Pass
Posted by ski_photomatt on 2/17/03 9:18pm
Weather was surprisingly good, periods of cloudy/foggy weather but mostly sunshine or filtered sun.  6-8" of new, relative dense snow above the varied old surfaces.  Took a few short runs in north facing woods then skied down towards Yodelin from Heather Ridge.  It must have rained/misted very slightly before starting to snow Sunday as I found a very small, very weak crust above the old faceted snow on north facing slopes.  On sun exposed slopes, the new snow was directly overlaying the sun crust from last week.  Skiing was quite good, on the north side of the ridge one would sink down into the old snow, stopping somewhere above the very old crust from late January/early Feb, on sun exposed slopes it was the new powder above the more recent sun crust.  Snow seemed relatively stable, I was only able to set off small, isolated slabs on steep, wind loaded test slopes, rutchblock failed on a hard step onto the block plus a weight down from the knees (north side of Heather Ridge, just below the ridge).  Slopes receiving sunshine yesterday most likely developed a sun crust, it was above freezing at 2pm in the sun atop Heather Ridge and quite warm down at the PCT.
I was at Yodelin the day before (Sunday Feb 16th) from about 8:30-4pm and I didn't see a drop of rain.  It snowed in the morning and by noonish it had cleared and was sunny and
very warm. Could the crust perhaps have been from a change in temperature? That or it rained very early in the morning.  

Hum, looking at the telemetry data from Sunday, it is hard to detect any rain up at Stevens.  The crust was very, very slight, I noticed it only when using my hand to cut down through the side of a smooth snow pit wall.  I didn't really mean rain before, this implies heavier precipitation.  I was imagining more of a mist/rime, a little precipitation that would accumulate on the ground when the relative humidity is near 100%.  This was on the north side of the ridge and I don't think a temperature increase in the afternoon would cause the crust to form as it wouldn't have been in the sun (assuming the sun caused the increase in temperature in the afternoon Sunday).  I dunno, I'm far from an avalanche expert.  Can anyone else offer a possible explanation?

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2003-02-18 05:18:40