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Season’s First Avalanches Reported

November 16, 2012 Greater Yellowstone, State of Wyoming, Teton County No Comments
1st Avalanche

Even before the ski season has formally begun, the slopes around the region are already experiencing avalanches.  One outside Grand Targhee Ski Resort was triggered by a pre-season skier, but fortunately did not catch anybody in the slide.  Avalanche Forecaster Bob Comey sayswhat made this slide and another nearby significant is that it demonstrated the volatility of the snow falling on a crust that initially formed on the mountains.  Comey says we had snow in October, and then had really warm weather.  That made for a very hard surface, and then during the very cold nights there was “surface hoar” that developed on that surface making for a “persistent weak layer.”  With a foot to two feet of snow on top, Comey says it is showing signs of weakness – and as we see more snow accumulate on it, he says we could be facing a pretty dangerous situation in the next several days, weeks and even months because of this buried crust.   Comey explains that as additional snowfalls accumulate through the season, the layer has the potential to persist and cause continued problems into the season.  For that reason Comey says, skiers need to faithfully check the avalanche forecast before setting out.  Comey says the avalanches that ran on Thursday had crowns of only 14 and 18 inches respectively.  Furthermore, Comey says one of the avalanches was remote triggered, meaning that the actual run was actually triggered by a skier who was some distance away; illustrating how fragile the layer is.

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