Today was windy, cold day to be out and about. Throughout our tour it was lightly snowing, however, the main story was the strong northwest winds. These winds were effectively drifting any snow available for transport into lee areas.
Today I traveled to the Vista Ridge area adjacent to Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Area. My objective was to see what current surfaces look like before new snow starts piling up and to continue tracking the 12/8 layer of buried surface hoar. Throughout our tour, we observed a mixed bag of conditions.
At upper elevations and in more exposed areas, the strong winds from the past couple of days have resulted in firm, wind textured travel above treeline. Areas of wind drifted snow were firm (pencil hard) and stubborn on test slopes, which also made for complicated and slippery travel in sections. Below treeline, we found preserved cold snow in shaded areas. Much of this surface snow at these elevations have become sugary and weak (near-surface facets), due to the prolonged cold temperatures and high pressure. On more southerly slopes we observed a sun crust and less than ideal skiing conditions. Fortunately in this area, the high winds from the last 24 hours have destroyed any newly developed surface hoar that has been lingering from the past days.
The 12/8 layer of buried surface hoar can still be located in specific areas below and near treeline,approximately 12-15 inches below the surface. We did locate this layer today in our test profile, which we easily identified as a thin gray line. That being said, we did notice this layer gaining strength and rounding. It's becoming harder and harder to get this layer to fail in snowpack tests.