Backcountry Snow Slide Vermont February 2014

The winter of 2013-2014 is anything but boring. We had the deepest October-November snow in grown up memory for us AARP snow riders. Late December through January saw back to back to back to back ice storms, with bitter cold in between (except January 10-13 thaw). Since then we have about 4 feet of answered dry snow in much of the east. Here in northern Vermont that is enough dry snow to trigger human induced back country slides, or small avalanches if you want to call them.

My weather compare in Montgomery Vermont, Josh Wirth shares his thrill of watching a buddy trigger a slide, (and not get hurt).

Thank you Josh for sharing this narrative and video.
Who knew there is an official code for avalanche magnitude?
Nice AVVY stats JW.

Josh Worth, February 16,2014

Sorry no update till now --- too busy shredding all this DEEP POW! Over 2 feet of the fluffy white stuff at the resort and more in the typical hot-spot snow areas (Big Jay/ Cold Hollows to name a few). This all fell on top of the 1.5- 2ft of powder that was already down from last week and has made for some super deep turns where the traffic hasn't gotten to yet.
We got pretty far into the backcountry today to one of our favorite 'kinda' top secret spots that needs a lot of snow to be ridden. We brought shovels and probes due to the new deep snow and our knowledge of that ice layer that has been omnipresent way underneath the snowpack since December. We almost needed them!!! After dropping a 20 ft cliff, one of the riders in our small group triggered a pretty good sized avalanche that carried him a short distance and buried him up to his chest. I actually captured this whole event on video, but I've attached some pics. For VT, it was a good sized slide -- the 2nd biggest that I've ever seen around here. Maybe 60ft wide by 200 ft long w/ a 20-36" crown/ fracture. The whole thing was kind of scary, but to be honest, we knew the risk and realized that the terrain of the area would stop the slide about where it did eventually terminate. I know only a few of you on this list get into the backcountry, but if you're one of these few... realize that these new conditions throughout New England have set up pretty perfectly for avalanche activity -- as these pics should clearly demonstrate. If there's a substrate of slab rock or another relatively smooth surface, there's a good chance that there's a persistent weak layer of thick ice on top that has survived the past 6-8 weeks and is not capable of holding the weight of this super deep snow. The result will be an easily triggered slide under the right (or wrong) conditions. A friend even told me that a good sized slide occurred in The Dip, near 242, which is practically in-bounds at Jay Peak. Take both of these stories into consideration when choosing descent routes.
What's next weather-wise?? Well, after the 3-5" we picked up early this morning (and that was some super-light perfect fluff), we're looking at more snow from Monday into Wednesday -- probably on the lighter side of 2-4". Temps may approach 40F by Fri which will actually help solidify this snowpack, then temps drop back down a bit for Saturday. No big thaw in sight which is absolutely spectacular for the back country. How about this --- Jay Peak Resort has received 210" of snow on the season as of today! -- That's pretty good for anywhere -- definitely here in the East!

February 19th update from Josh (looks like plenty more slides to come).

The weather has been great here pretty much since February began. Tons of snow (almost 5 feet) and great powder preservation temps.

Thursday night starts off good w/ snow falling and probably accumulating. There is a chance that this stays all snow into the morning, but also a chance of a changeover to sleet or freezing rain. Look for an accumulation of 1-3".  At this point, I think we see a bit of a break in the system and we'll probably be thinking "OK, not too bad". But that break is gonna be just that (a break).  More significant moisture moves in w/ slightly warmer air around Friday afternoon. I don't think we're gonna miss an eventual plain rain event this time, but you never know -- I've seen forecasts just like this end up w/ big snow. Good thing is that this short-lived (if at all) rain event will do a lot to solidify this avalanche prone snow pack and set us up real well for the next snow storm. It does look like this system will end as snow showers on Saturday w/ possible light accumulation.


May take on the next week, (as written for Jay Peak Resort).

Winter is far from over.
Thaw? Did someone say thaw? A powerful storm is passing north of Jay Peak Friday, that means we get a warmer south wind for a few hours. BUT...

We also get 3 inches of snow on frontside Thursday Night, then freezing rain for a few hours early Friday, and maybe an hour of just plain rain for brunch. Then 2" MORE SNOW late day or early evening. Yes, we have a lot of WIND too (again) with the cold front Friday. So this is four varieties of weather in less than 24 hours.

Result, net increase of 4" snow with our thaw!

Boy do I hate blowing the wind forecast. Sorry about that this past week.

We are looking at gusts past 50 mph as the warm south wind on Friday is replaced with cooling west wind Friday Night.

This is with the Cold FroPa, as in Cold Frontal Passage.

Our weekend looks very nice.

High pressure moves to the Ohio Valley pushing dry air to Jay Peak with temperatures in the 30s Saturday, 20s Sunday, but colder at the summit.

Wind SHOULD be from the southwest 25-35 Saturday, and west 20-30 Sunday. Flurries are possible, but no significant accumulation through Monday.

However, next week looks very interesting. Canada is turning wall to wall cold for about the forth time this winter. The Pacific Storms will come into the west coast fast and furious (more good news for California), The combination of unseasonable chill and pacific energy means we have to watch our for blizzards and super storms every 3-5 days for the last week of February and first week of March.

Here at Jay, the next time to watch for us is Tuesday or Wednesday. It is going to snow, then it's going to blow... possible record cold late in the week.
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