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Hot Topic (More than 30 Replies) Above the snowline in the South Island (Read 41739 times)
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Re: Above the snowline in the South Island
Reply #45 - Aug 10th, 2012 at 9:38am
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For those Tahr hunting around the snowline, there is yet another storm cycle due this weekend and its worth a look at the avalanche forecast for the region your in.

the quote below for the Mt Cook region and the Two Thumbs (ready Macauley) is pretty typical of what to expect.

"Looking ahead it's likely that danger levels will
rise along with the accumulation of new snow.
Storm snow avalanching is possible on all
aspects but more likely on slopes lee to the
east. Plenty of surface hoar was observed in the
Mt Cook region today and it's likely to exist
around the two thumbs as well.
As the storm is
coming in without much wind initially this hoar
could well be preserved to become a problem
layer once buried. Back country travel is not
recommended over the next couple of days due
to poor visibilty compromising safe route finding
and caution is advised on the next fine day
thanks to the possibility of touchy avalanche
conditions if the surface hoar does turn out to be
a problem."

Surface hoar under new snow is a classic scenario for large avalanches, triggered by very little disturbance to the snowpack.



The frost crystals are quite delicate and will break suddenly under load, but at the same time they are just strong enough to carry the weight of a new snowfall until it reaches some depth. It takes just a little trigger for all the crystals to break en masse, and the total new snow sitting on top will slide of down the hill.
  

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Re: Above the snowline in the South Island
Reply #46 - Jun 20th, 2013 at 5:22pm
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Winter has once again arrived, with a vengeance in many parts of the country. I imagine the more alpine regions of the North Island are also taking a thrashing, but I'm going to comment on the area I'm familiar with, the high country, Central South Island.

The big snowfall started last night and continued through the whole day, accompanied by strong winds above 1000 asl from the SE quarter.

Some big snowfalls have been recorded. It would be fair to say that more than a meter of snow has fallen at higher levels, and in the lee of high ridges settling on North West quartered flanks,  there may be well several meters of new snow blown in.

The general rule of thumb by snowfalls of this quantity is that one doesn't even venture into the mountains at all until a warming and or settling cycle of weather has come to pass , and in all probability many natural avalanches have taken place, indicating a settling of the snow-pack, and a reduction in the extreme avalanche potential that we now have. Today and most certainly for a few days, and possibly a few weeks from today the danger will remain high. It all depends what the weather brings next over the coming weeks at the least..

One could expect large to very large avalanches to take place whether natural or triggered, some of them perhaps even running as large powder avalanches to the valley flow. Hence the old adage, 50cm of new snow, stay at home.

Time will tell.

In the meantime , if one is an alpine hunter, one can study  the recent avalanche advisory notices here, and start to follow them for your favorite area though the winter. By following your area , from the beginning of the winter, one can build a better mental picture of what is happening above the snow line, to your advantage at a later date.

http://www.avalanche.net.nz/

http://www.avalanche.net.nz/forecasts/detail.asp?m=8

And just as a bit of eye candy, here's avid that pretty much shows what can happen right now in the areas that have big accumulations of new snow.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g227xto0N5Q&feature=share

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BwsLhfH3TE

« Last Edit: Jun 22nd, 2013 at 1:38pm by headcase »  

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Re: Above the snowline in the South Island
Reply #47 - Jun 21st, 2013 at 9:07am
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Yeah, nah. I will wait until spring thanks. Its obviously not the first one to come down that line
  
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Re: Above the snowline in the South Island
Reply #48 - Jun 21st, 2013 at 12:10pm
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Observation and continual reevaluation is everything TJ.
  

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Re: Above the snowline in the South Island
Reply #49 - Apr 28th, 2014 at 5:38pm
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A year goes by awfully fast these days.. first bigger snow on the tops today. A new winter is approaching.

First substantail pre winter snow fall in 2014, 28th April.

This may or may not form the base of our winter snow-pack 2014. Its early days and a strong NW flow could melt all of this right to the top in 24 hours.

On the other hand its been cool but sunny all day and its expected to drop below zero this evening, the 29th, so this snow will cool considerably overnight. Tekapo is around 700m and the tops around 2200-300m. Expect the air temperature to drop 0.5c for every 100m height difference. With a forecast -2c tonight at lake level, Id expect it to reach -10 thereabouts in the snow-pack this evening.  This is a significant temperature drop and may guarantee that the snow on the tops and in the shady faces will survive until the next snowfall.

What we are looking at here in this picture is the possible base, which will support all other snowfalls during the coming winter.




http://www.avalanche.net.nz/
« Last Edit: Apr 30th, 2014 at 8:59am by headcase »  

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Re: Above the snowline in the South Island
Reply #50 - Jun 10th, 2015 at 9:27am
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Forget about last winter 2014, it was pretty much a non event, snowfalls were sparse, localized to certain areas eg, "Southern Lakes", or "Central Plateau", and overall the winter short and mild.
"
So here we are at the doorstep to the winter 2015. First snowfalls have come that have any chance of remaining on the ground though this winter. Ive once again written a small piece around the snow situation in my local area. Mackenzei, Aoraki Mt Cook.

Why? because its only possible to give an accurate picture of the snow situation in a local area. Snowfalls , like the weather they are born of, vary hugely as do the preceding and anti ceding weather pattern. The differences from place to place, give hugely different results , often separated only by a single ridge-line or catchment area.

My objective is simply to talk about this area, which I can directly observe, in a effort to  raise awareness for the interested reader.

Everyone has to make their own personal decisions when venturing into the back country around snow and avalanche conditions, wherever that might be.


As posted in the hunting section after our largest snowfall in the Mackenzie up to date Winter 2015.

Big warm nor west blowing all last night and spasmodically through today. Will be a bit of snow melt going on, on the lower bits,  and plenty of wind transported snow in the higher regions .. The wind is picking up again, and the forecast is looking miserable for at least a couple more days..

This was taken a day back just before the weather turned to NorWest, only a hop away from where your talking about.

All the slopes in shade, which are south east facing, or shaded slopes after lunch, will be loaded with fresh wind blown snow around the tops, or saying the same thing in another way, any lee slopes, "wind shaded", from the North West Wind will be treacherous.

More snow and wind are forecast = 



There is a place to go to get a good idea of whats going on if you read the bulletin for your intended area carefully.

http://www.avalanche.net.nz/Forecasts/

Theres a new bulletin out for Aoraki Mt Cook which is very close  to the Godlay and usually similar in weather, (but not always).

The Mackauley tends to follow the weather patterns of the Rangitata more closely. (but not always, its the bloody weather..  Grin)

http://www.avalanche.net.nz/forecasts/region.asp?a=2

Here: http://www.avalanche.net.nz/forecasts/detail.asp?m=9
"Today(9/6/15) we have had 30mm of rain already in the MtCook Villiage this should equate to about 45 cm of snow above 2100 meters this snow is sitting on a generally stable snow pack that has been through a warm settling period early last week.
Around 2000 meters the snow pack has been rain soaked overnight so the snow will be wet and heavy makeing for unpleasent travel."


For the area your talking about.. ( my prognoses, based on something that should never be overlooked, its called "local knowledge")

As the weather is supposed to cool again and then start to snow again with high winds, the tendency for the next days will probably be, stabilization of the wet snow-pack in lower regions as it cools. Increase of avalanche danger in lee slopes at higher altitudes, due to fresh snow from the North West being blown in and deposited along ridges lines, and rivers running high.

Its all about timing, terrain, weather tendencies, and observation.. Grin Good luck.



  

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Re: Above the snowline in the South Island
Reply #51 - Oct 31st, 2018 at 10:50pm
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This is a time of the year when Tahr Hunters will be pushing up to the snow line in search of Tahr.  Even under the snowline when crossing gullies and terrain traps, the risk of an avalanche flowing down even below the snowline is present.. Stay safe, dont hang around in confined gullies.. stay on the ridges..

A sad reminder this morning at Mt Cook.

https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/mountain-tragedy-jo-morgan-survives-...
  

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