HAKUBA / OTARI BACKCOUNTRY TRAVEL ADVISORY:
Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern. Natural avalanches unlikely; human-triggered avalanches possible Small avalanches in specific areas; or large avalanches in isolated areas.
Thaw crust will be present on east and south aspects after yesterday’s slight warming… and strong solar radiation. These crusts will be most prominent at lower elevations and steep southern slopes. Surface hoar and near surface faceting is present on more shaded slopes where radiated heat loss was prevalent during clear skies at night and through the days due to the low temps. Areas lower in elevation that did not receive as much wind as higher elevations and close to water sources in the valley will see greater facet creation.
Today’s new snow may collect enough to cause small loose slides later in the day. Stay clear of steep slopes with scouring around ridges and rocky outcrops that might have shallow areas that may be more reactive to skier and rider triggering from the persistent weak faceted melt freeze layer around the January 22nd thaw crust. Cornices have been getting big in the Alpine and at Tree Line and should be avoided. Stay to simple terrain away from steep convex slopes.
This low density surface snow combined with near surface faceting and hoar frost may produce a weak interface with the new snow falling today and continuing through to the weekend.
Expect the avalanche hazard to rise with new snow and wind affect.
There is still the possibility of very large slab avalanches at Tree Line and above. Take due care if traveling in the Hakuba and Otari backcountry.
TREE LINE: Considerable
BELOW TREE LINE: Moderate