THE BOTTOM LINE
Dangerous conditions continue as significant snowfall and wind have added a heavy load and stressed older layers of weak snow. Stay far away from and well out from under wind-loaded, open terrain 35 degrees and steeper. Consider avoiding avalanche terrain at upper elevations where you can trigger very large and destructive avalanches that could break widely across slopes.
The new snow and strong wind will increase the chances for triggering avalanches 3ft to 4ft deep. Persistent slabs can propagate widely across terrain features and can result in very large and deadly avalanches. Stay well out from under any large open slopes steeper than 30 degrees, as they can be triggered from a long distance away or from below. Be alert to signs of instability such as shooting cracks, and whumphing collapses.
Recent observations continue to indicate that large slab avalanches can release on a crust from mid-January. These have occurred mainly on Northwest to Southeast aspects above 5,500ft. The Salmon la Sac, Icicle, and other areas on the southwestern edge of the zone could be favored for snowfall and could hold dangerous conditions on Sunday. While slabs are thinner and the danger may be less elevated in the Wenatchee Mountains, the avalanches will be similar. When the snowpack is this complex, keep your terrain choices simple.
Strong winds will continue to transport the snow in open and wind-exposed terrain. Feel for wind stiffened or hollow sounding snow as you enter open terrain, and change aspects. Any avalanche in the new snow could step down to deeper weaker layers and result in a very large and deadly avalanche above 5,000ft. Consider the terrain you're connected to and avoid steep, open wind loaded slopes. Stay alert to indicators of wind slab such as heavy snow drifting, shooting cracks and whumphing collapses. Small soft slab avalanches are possible on steep, sheltered slopes where more than 8" of new snow falls.
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