Public Observation #2023-933

January 3, 2023 7:41 PM
Observation Date:
December 30, 2022
Zone or Region:
Central Cascades
XC Skiing/Snowshoeing
Black Butte
Did you see shooting cracks? 
Did you experience collapsing or whumpfing? 
I could drive up to the Upper Black Butte Loop trailhead with my CrossTrek. A Volvo and a few other higher clearance trucks made it as well.
Snow was consolidated under treeline/rain shadows and rain “line” appeared to be under 4.5k’ or so. Above that the snow was still consolidated under rain shadows for trees, but got deeper out in the open (3” or so snowshoe penetration). Above treeline (5.2k’ or so), breaking trail was tedious and time consuming; up to 6k’ the snow levels were inconsistent. There was a lot of partially exposed vegetation (bushes) and snowshoe penetration was approximately 3”-1’, depending on what was below the snowshoes. Above 6k’ the snow got progressively deeper (12”-16”) and was exhibiting more signs of wind effect/solar input, but in a minimal manner: the snow appeared to mostly be fresh storm snow.
I wasn’t terribly concerned about avalanche conditions given the lower angle of travel and lower snow coverage, but I saw limited wet loose conditions below treeline and drier looser conditions above treeline. My main concern were hazards buried below the shallow snowpack (logs, boulders).
The snowfall was mostly heavier wet snow below treeline (mid to upper 30s) and sleet above treeline. The wind direction above treeline was variable, but it was coming mostly from the east and westerly directions with gusts up to 15mph (estimated). It felt like it was in the low 20s with wind chill.