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Into the storm on Gray Butte

Location Name: 
Gray Butte
Mt. Shasta
Date and time of observation: 
Tue, 03/14/2023 - 12:08pm
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' 35.898" N, 122° 11' 48.12" W
California US

Snowpack Observations


This observation comes to you from a south aspect at 7,600 feet on Gray Butte.

Into the storm I traveled yet again to assess the storm slab problem and see if the 14 – 20 inches of new snow forecasted was coming to fruition. The storm slab problem was evident with every step I took. Small cracks shooting out from underneath my skis were experienced all day long. Different layers of storm slab interfaces were revealed in stability tests ranging from 10 cm to 60 cm. To me, this illustrates that steep terrain with a large load will result in a deeper instability. The upside-down snowpack structure is beginning to trend back to right-side-up. Near treeline I experienced 8 inches of fresh snow and counting. Below treeline 6 inches of fresh snow was found. This new snow had a much lighter density to it than the day prior and did not arrive with much wind to tamper it down. Calm winds below treeline allowed the snow to fall straight at light to moderate rates. Near treeline the wind was blowing from the south and southeast at light to moderate speeds with freshly formed wind lips and textured surfaces on wind-exposed ridge tops. Blowing snow was observed onto westerly and northerly aspects near treeline. At 0100 the snow level was at 5,300 feet.  

  • Observation Location: Gray Butte
  • Elevation: 7,600 feet 
  • Date: 2023.03.14
  • Time: 1200
  • Observer: E.Falconer 
  • Sky Conditions: Obscured (X)]
  • Current Precipitation: Type -  RA | SN , Rate - [S-1 | S1 
  • Air Temperature: 29 °F
  • Surface Penetration: Ski penetration (PS) = 10 in (25 cm), boot penetration (PF) = 50 in (130 cm)
  • Total Snow Depth (HS): 56 in (140 cm)
  • Wind Direction: SE | S 
  • Wind Speed: [Calm (C), 0 mi/hr | Light (L), 1-16 mi/hr, twigs in motion | Moderate (M), 17-25 mi/hr, small trees sway 
  • Column & Block Tests:
    • Slope Angle & Aspect 27º, South aspect 
    • ECTN
    • CT13 - RP - ↓23 in (60 cm)



  • Storm slab interfaces
  • Stability test found this layer reactive over and over. Although its deep, if triggered it could be traumatic
  • The different interfaces and depths of storm slabs
  • Cracking under skis happened with every step, even on flat terrain
  • Below treeline conditions
  • BTL conditions
  • Near treeline conditions
  • Top of Gray Butte

Weather Observations


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: