Light westerly wind with patchy valley fog. Mountains toward the crest were socked in with incoming moisture. Light snow began around noon. No blowing snow observed by the time I left shortly after that.
Coverage is looking good in the area. I found HS to be right around 90cm to 100cm in the low 5,000ft elevation range. Overall the snowpack structure is fairly weak and junky with decomposed melt freeze crusts mid pack, near the ground, and basal facets. Each of these layers have faceted melt forms within them, with the weakest snow near the bottom. Boot penetration would sometimes go all the way through to the ground, but often only down 40cm or so.
I saw tracks on lots of slopes from the weekend, though very few in steeper, upper elevation starting zones.
I dug two profiles, one targeting a shallower and weak snowpack approaching the horseshoe bowl on Diamond Head, another in Naneum Crk a little higher in elevation. Of the two, the profile at 5,200ft on Diamond Head held a significantly weaker structure.
NE at 5,200ft below Diamond Head- HS 96cm with rimed new snow on the surface.
96-68: Recent storm snow F to 4F
68-66: MFcr/FCxr decomposing, 1F (12/21)
66-55: 1F rounds
55-50: MFcr/FCxr decomposing, 4F (12/9)
50-25: 4F+ rounds/FCxr
25-ground: F+ rounding basal facets
CT12 SC at 54cm
PST 30/100 (End) at 54cm
ECTP 22 at 54cm
E at 5,600ft in Naneum Crk-HS 100cm
CTM RP down 30cm on 2mm thick rain crust from early January
CTH SC down 50cm on 12/21, and 70cm on 12/9 (both broke at the same tap).
Overall, the 12/21 and 12/9 layers, and were substantially stronger here than at the 5,200ft NE site. I still found rounding basal facets, though these were smaller and stronger than the other site as well.