Item: Observations relating to wet snow stability
Title: Observations relating to wet snow stability
Proceedings: 1988 International Snow Science Workshop, Whistler, October 12-15
Authors: H. Conway, Steve Breyfogle, and Craig R. Wilbour
Abstract: Observations relating to wet snow avalanches in a low-elevation, maritime climate are discussed. The effects of crystal structure, water drainage, and lubricated layers on snow stability are considered. The strength of freshly deposited snow often changes rapidly with warming or rainfall. Rather than measuring the strength at a particular time, it is more important to determine how the strength would change during a forecasted weather event. With warming or rain, snow consisting of intricately shaped crystals weakens and avalanches much more rapidly than snow containing more rounded crystal types. The movement'of liquid water through snow is influenced by the structure of the snowpack. Coarse-grained snow allows water to drain easily and makes for a relatively stable snowpack, while fine-grained snow inhibits drainage. On numerous occasions, saturated layers were observed at different depths within snowpacks. The strength of these layers was usually stronger than adjacent layers and avalanches did not release at the saturated layers, but rather within layers above or below them.
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Keywords: crystal structure, water drainage, lubricated layers, snow stability, forecast
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