Think slides are no "Big Deal"? Think again.
Those of you who have a modicum of avalanche awareness know that the history of the snowpack is an important ingredient of any avalanche forecast and snowpack assessment. If you have been out much this year and have poked around in the existing snowpack you already know there is a persistent deep layer of unconsolidated temperature gradient or TG snow sitting at the bottom of the Northern Sierra snowpack on most Northern and Eastern exposures in many places due to our early thin snowpack and occasional cold snaps.
If we get repeated storms resulting in a heavy snowpack on top of this crushable and unstable layer the situation can result in deep and destructive large avalanches. This condition is common in Continental snowpacks but much less so in Maritime climates such as our own. That being said, conditions have set up so far in the Northern Sierra's for potential extreme avalanche conditions in the future should we receive heavy snow. As storms begin to move in it should give everyone pause for thought.
As most of us are experiencing a lot of Pent Up Powder Desire, it is worth keeping in mind that slides will kill and injure outdoor enthusiasts this season. If you are planning on enjoying the backcountry this winter you may want to think about enrolling in, at the minimum an Avalanche Awareness program such as "Know Before You Go" and even better, join a weekend course for your Avalanche I Certificate. It just may change the trajectory of your life... in a good way. Check out these POV avy vids and it may motivate you to learn more.