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Red Flags Flying High on Gray Butte

Location Name: 
Gray Butte
Mt. Shasta
Date and time of observation: 
Sat, 01/07/2023 - 1:30pm
Observation made by: 
Red Flags:
Whumphing noises, shooting cracks, or collapsing
Recent loading by new snow, wind, or rain

Location Map

96067 Mount Shasta , CA
United States
41° 20' 57.5196" N, 122° 11' 34.0656" W
California US

Snowpack Observations


Today was one of those days you can feel the tension in the snowpack. Red flags of avalanche danger were widespread. Storm slabs and wind slabs could be easily ski cut and/or stomped off small, steep test slopes. Southeast wind was actively loading W-NW-N facing slopes. Shooting cracks and blocking in the new snow was frequent. Long cracks 20 feet away would propagate across the fresh snow. New snow accumulation rates were about one inch an hour with about 1.5 feet of fresh storm snow. A pit dug on a west facing aspect at 8,000 feet gave way to unstable stability tests, easily failing and propagating just below a thin crust 45 cm / 17 in from the surface of the snowpack. Other storm layers produced failures as well. Red flags of avalanche danger were in your face. Near whiteout conditions made for very poor visibility. I stayed completely off of and clear of any avalanche terrain, but all the signs of danger were there. Triggering an avalanche in steep terrain was certain.

  • Observation Location: Gray Butte via Mt Shasta Ski Park
  • Elevation: 6,500 to 8,100 feet
  • Date: 20230107
  • Time: 1300
  • Observer: Meyers
  • Sky Conditions: Obscured (X)
  • Current Precipitation: Type - SN, Rate - S2
  • Air Temperature: 24 °F
  • Surface Penetration: Ski penetration (PS) = 6-8 in,  boot penetration (PF) = 2 ft 
  • Total Snow Depth (HS): 98 in (250 cm)
  • 24-hour New Snow Depth (HN24): 17 in (45 cm)
  • 24-hour New Snow Water Equivalent (HN24W): 1.51 in 
  • Wind Direction: SE 
  • Wind Speed: Moderate (M), 17-25 mi/hr, small trees sway | Strong (S), 26-38 mi/hr, whole trees in motion
  • Column & Block Tests:
    • Slope Angle & Aspect 25º, W 
    • ECTP5 ↓ [17] in (45 cm)



  • Gray Butte pit, 8k ft, west facing, near treeline
  • Extended column tests (ECTP5@45cm from top)
  • Easy cracking and blocking in the fresh snow
  • Easy cracking and blocking in the fresh snow
  • Long shooting cracks 20 feet away
  • Easy cracking and blocking in the fresh snow
  • Hollow tree wells, large and in charge if you go head first
  • Poor visibility
  • Rime crust trees
  • Wind loading on leeward northwest sides of trees from southeast wind

Weather Observations


24-hour weather data from Old Ski Bowl and Gray Butte combined, taken at 2230 hours on 1.7.23


Cloud Cover: 
100% of the sky covered by clouds
Blowing Snow: 
Accumulation rate: 
Greater than 1 in. per hour
Air temperature: 
Below Freezing
Air temperature trend: 
Wind Speed: 
Wind Direction: