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The Avalanche Forecast

Wind Slabs

Wind slabs form when blowing snow creates a dense slab over a weaker layer of snow. Wind slabs vary in size but are generally limited to specific terrain features, such as the leeward side of ridgetops.

Wind slabs are most common in the alpine but can also be found at treeline. When winds are moderate, you will generally find them in areas immediately behind ridgelines. When winds are strong, they can form in more sheltered areas.

Your best approach to managing a wind slab problem is by recognizing what they look and feel like. Watch for blowing snow and see where it is being transported. Wind-loaded areas generally appear more rounded, smooth, and pillow-like. The snow will also feel noticeably stiffer under your feet or machine and you may even hear hollow or drum-like sounds on very hard wind slabs.