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Tue. 13.02.2018
update 13.02.18 7:21 (Bernhard Niedermoser - translated by Jeffrey McCabe)

Snowdrift situation above treeline



Widespread 30-40 cm of fresh snow, more in northern barrier cloud regions. Below the loose powder is bonded snowdrift above the treeline, sometimes atop a loose base. Avoid very steep slopes, triggerings are possible in many places (NW/S/E). Loose sluffs and avalanches possible in extremely steep terrain, natural triggerings also possible. Experience, restraint are imperative.

Avalanche Danger

The current conditions demand caution and restraint, a totally different situation from last week. Avalanche danger above the treeline is CONSIDERABLE (3); in the Nockberge just barely MODERATE (2). Dry slab avalanches easily triggered in steep ridgeline terrain, esp. north and east facing slopes above 2200 m, more likely with ascending altitude, also on south-facing slopes. The weight of one sole skier is enough to trigger the snow masses. On the windy Main Alpine Ridge and in the Lungau, danger zones are easily recognized, everywhere else the wind indicators cannot be discerned, blanketed by 20 cm of fresh snow. Typical fractures are 40-70 cm deep. With the sunshine, naturally triggered, generally harmless loose-snow avalanches will trigger naturally in extremely steep, rocky terrain. Avoid those zones!

On extremely steep grass-covered slopes below 2200 m, isolated gliding avalanches can trigger naturally.

Snow Layering

Over the last 30 hours there has been 30-40 cm of fresh snow registered, as much as 50 cm in barrier cloud zones. The first batch was compact amidst NW winds. The latter batch had less wind, was very cold and loose. Overall, the borderline to the old snow makes the snow masses easily triggered: the snow at that point is an unfavourable mixture of hoar and faceted, old powder snow crystals and thin old snowdrift accumulations from recent days.

The old snowpack is compact. The more deeply embedded weak layers are not trigger-sensitive. Gliding avalanche activity has receded, compared to the weeks prior. Only where the old snowpack is still sucking moisture from the warm ground from place to place are gliding avalanches likely.

Alpine Weather Forecast (ZAMG Salzburg)

Overcast skies to start with, some light snowfall in the northern barrier cloud regions, but not much fresh snow is anticipated. In Lungau and towards Upper Pinzgau, some sunshine in early morning, elsewhere not until later on. Northerly winds will be light for the most part, brisk in Lungau (30 km/hr). It is very cold. At 2000 m: -14 degrees; at 3000 m: -20 degrees.

On Wednesday, sunshine. Only in eastern regions, esp. Osterhorn range, Tennen range, Dachstein, could low lying cloud accumulate and be persistent. Next to no wind, but still cold. At 2000 m: -12 degrees; at 3000 m: -18 degrees.

Short Term Development

Snowdrift situation above the treeline requires continuing caution, although danger is receding. Danger level (as a measure of triggerability and frequency of danger zones) is MODERATE, in some places CONSIDERABLE.

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