Taos Region

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Re: Taos Region

Postby danshorb » Fri Feb 01, 2019 10:49 pm

Following, wonder what sunday will do.
The only two things you can truly depend on are Gravity and Greed. -Jack Palance
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Re: Taos Region

Postby mdkuli » Tue Feb 05, 2019 12:07 pm

Thanks to JBella for documenting the sketchy nature of the snowpack this year.
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Re: Taos Region

Postby JBella » Tue Feb 05, 2019 1:58 pm

danshorb wrote:Following, wonder what sunday will do.


Hey Dan, Sunday did some interesting things! Got a head start on the river season, Rio Hondo headwaters were flowing pretty good.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XV6LoFhErkc

When we climbed to the top of this line our assessment was that any slab issues were non-existent based on snow depth and consistency, and how the three noticeable layers were reacting in our tests. Average across the zone was 12-15 inches of wet and heavy but not soaking Spring-like snow at the top, the middle 15-20" layer was dense, wet and packed granules composing a 1F soft slab, lower 5-6 inches very dense and heavy but drier soft slab on the ground. Each layer was well bonded. After reaching the top of the chute below a cliff and checking the looseness of the surface layer I expected my sluff to run, and was prepared to hit some rocks knowing this line is a geologically active rockslide beneath decomposing precambrian outcrops. When I stopped and watched the sluff catch up with me I thought it would run around my board to the side, most of it did but it also got the small section I was standing on to move. Took me for a ride for a few dozen feet to the willows. Looking back up afterwards I was able to gather the dynamics of this small slide ~ R1.5D2, unintentional and somewhat expected wet slide initiated from a few turns kicking the loose snow outwards, 15-20" of wet surface snow moving on an old layer, about 40' across and 175' vertical. Debris mostly sluffed itself out as some made it to the stream and left small piles up to 14" deep. This was on a north aspect below 9k, alpha angle approx 42 degrees. Temps were hovering in the mid 30s during our entire climb and descent, about 2 hours total.

Temps are warming quickly as the Earth is shifting it's angle relative to our Sun. Snow in the lowest elevations in the mountains is melting, and it has been raining off and on today along the Rio Grande gorge. Below 10k the snowpack is shallow, wet slides including sluffs and widening point releases are possible. I don't know how temps are affecting the middle to upper layers of the snowpack, today, it still seems pretty cold up high and wet slabs are likely not an issue above about 10k, although there may be some isolated areas where mid-season slabs are present in the warmer mid to lower elevations, areas that come to mind are the slopes along any of the trails leading from Hondo Canyon towards Lobo and Gavilan peaks.

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Re: Taos Region

Postby JBella » Thu Feb 07, 2019 7:03 am

Yesterday's storm was windy, by 3pm there was 8 inches at the Bavarian. Visibility decreased throughout the day to a point where we couldn't see more than 20 feet in front while cruising down the open groomers by Lift 7. There's probably some deep drifts today. and areas scoured clean on certain open, westerly terrain features.
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Re: Taos Region

Postby JBella » Thu Feb 07, 2019 9:35 pm

Storm totals up to 10", moderate drifting especially on exposed terrain features with open northwest slopes and pockets. West Basin activity from this morning, I don't know if these were naturals or kicked down by control work

February 7 West Basin Sluffs.jpg
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February 7 West Basin.jpg
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Re: Taos Region

Postby JBella » Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:47 pm

Winds were blowing steady from the west today, not real strong but sustained which made it seem stronger. Yesterday's 3-5 inches provided ample snow to move around on Kachina, starting zones on leeward sides of the ridge were filled in and the slopes in the K Chutes were holding a variable mix of blower pow up to a foot deep, 3'+ deep drifts and areas of deceptively thin fresh snow covering solid hardpack and oddly shaped moguls. A couple deep storm slabs on the skier's left side of K4 broke and the cracks propagated several meters to either side but the slabs didn't move far. Wildy Bowl and beyond looked like the high ridges were getting hammered, lots of snow blowing off the high points and turning into clouds along with swirling masses of snow travelling across the slopes. Winds are forecasted to increase tonight and tomorrow, a good sign that the developing storm cycle could be a good one.

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K4 Storm Slab.jpg
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Re: Taos Region

Postby mschlumpf » Wed Feb 13, 2019 12:19 am

Skied pinky chute and some runs below Sin Nombre on Sunday. The strong S-SW winds from last week left very little terrain untouched at TL and above. Even many well sheltered terrain features around pinky contain dense drifts up to a foot. Skiing was variable at best.

Storm snow from last week sits on a MFc (melt-freeze crust) on all aspects to at least 3600m. On solar aspects this interface seems to be bonding well. As we transitioned to more polar aspects the situation became a bit more tricky. On the east facing portion of the basin to at least 3600m, a reactive thin layer of facets lay below this crust interface. On specific wind-loaded terrain, this interface will likely be sensitive to human triggering. A CT test performed on this layer yielded CT 13 (SP) down 40cm on Fc sz 1-2 on an open east-facing slope at 3500m.

There was evidence of small wind slabs to sz D1.5 coming out of the immediate lee of specific wind loaded terrain features above tree line. Didn't see any new activity on deeper instabilities despite the heavy wind loading in certain areas.
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Re: Taos Region

Postby JBella » Thu Feb 14, 2019 9:16 am

Woohoo full sail tonight

GOES17_abi_conus_20190214_150718_band13.jpg
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https://weather.msfc.nasa.gov/goes/abi/ ... and13.html
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Re: Taos Region

Postby JBella » Fri Feb 15, 2019 12:25 pm

Very heavy and dense snow today, totals between 7 and 10 inches, deeper in some isolated areas. Temps were warm throughout the night, in the mid to upper 20s above the snow/rain line which was about 8,200'. Moderate winds up to 40mph from the west and northwest persisted from about 8pm till 6am on the high ridgelines. Above 11k Visibility is very limited at times due to fog and continuing snowfall.

Below about 8,200' and across the Rio Grande valley moderate rain fell through much of the night
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Re: Taos Region

Postby JBella » Mon Feb 18, 2019 1:08 am

Dynamics with this storm look good tonight, it's snowing at all elevations above at least 6500', relative humidity is between 90 and 100% across the region, light winds from the west and northwest. Temps are low, between 0 and 15 but with the relatively calm atmosphere there isn't a biting cold.
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Re: Taos Region

Postby JBella » Wed Feb 20, 2019 12:58 am

Yesterday on easterly aspects between 11,000 and 11,400' on Kachina's east side we found a snowpack between 125 and 140cm, comprised of several dozens of layers composing three isolatable slabs beneath a 20-30cm soft storm slab, stiffness changing from fist to 1f from top to bottom. Tests showed easy breaks but low chance of propagation within the storm snow, CT9 Q2 and CT4 Q2, relatively clean shears at a layer of early stage faceting grains. Roughly 65cm down was a thin layer of old faceting grains up to a mm atop a 25-45cm stack of a few faceting storm layers in the middle, the third slab-ish type layer was a few layers of old snow, very unconsolidated and faceted increasing in size deeper in the snowpack, grains in the 10-15cm layer above the ground were up to 5mm across, advanced in their growth they've developed into interesting diamond shapes with full and half cups hanging on the sides of some of the crystals. Of the four distinct slabs, the weakeast interface besides the new storm snow layer was at the bottom-middle, this was collapsing with ease in every test, failing at various depths from the top of that layer to the ground, and propagation results were a 23 and 25. Sudden collapses within the upper third of this layer to the ground were causing interesting parts of slabs to break and drop while cutting upwards during prop tests. What was really interesting is the interface between the middle and upper slabs was weak, failing at 25 in a prop test, but not failing in any column or ect's, this is another indicator leading to the most energetic instability being within the basal depth hoar and that lower slab structure, while failures of the upper layers in prop tests and visibility indicate these layers could fail and step down. Step downs or failures could also occur at layers that weren't reacting to our tests, as indicated after one column test while I was shearing the remaining column apart and we observed a clean shear at a visible but otherwise non-reactive interface between two layers within the apparent lower slab stack, these factors are all considerable. The upper third layer of the snowpack seemed to be strong in appearance as we were travelling up through the forest, until we reached the bench by the pond where we set off several rumbling collapses on convex rolls around buried boulders, and also within depressions between such features and scattered tree islands.

Descent video; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvNi8uMl6SM

February 18 Snowpit.jpg
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February 18 Snowpit Temps.jpg
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February 18 Slab to Slab Prop Test.jpg
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