Warming slopes resulting in small loose-wet point releases is the main avalanche concern for today (Friday). These could be large enough to knock riders of balance, and in rare instances could entrain enough snow to potentially bury a person. These natural releases will be increasingly likely with prolonged sun exposure on slopes, and riders on these steep slopes could likely start these small slides with their turns. Pinwheels and roller-balls are signs that slopes are decreasing in stability, as is sinking past your boot-top in wet snow. More concerning than avalanches is potentially firm snow conditions that could result in a slide-for-life.
Likelihood ?CertainVery LikelyLikelyPossible
Size ?HistoricVery LargeLarge
Trend ?Increasing Danger
Air temperatures are again forecasted to reach almost 50 degrees F at 10,000’ today. These warm air temperatures combined with mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies and low winds will warm and moisten slopes, beginning with easterly facing in the morning and moving to westerly facing in the afternoon, with increasing effects the more south exposure these slopes have. Small point releases will become likely on these slopes. Small point releases are concerning as they could knock a person off balance in steep terrain or potentially entrain enough snow to bury someone especially if the slope ends in a small gully. These small slides are most likely to originate near warming rock bands, and could be triggered by a rider’s turns on steep slopes. Get off slopes before they soften enough that you sink past your boot-top in wet snow. If skies are cloudy, this concern will be decreased at mid to upper elevations.
The last snowfall in the area occurred on Sunday, and was accompanied by very strong SW winds through Monday. Since then, spring like conditions have dominated the region with above average temperatures, sunshine and low winds. Windslabs that formed during the storm event have now stabilized, and the avalanche concern has shifted toward loose-wet point releases as slopes warm throughout the day from sun exposure and warm air temperatures. Cold clear nights have for the most part refrozen the snow, but last night, especially around the mammoth area, cloudy skies kept temperatures warm and above freezing almost as high as 11,000’. On the one hand, snow surfaces could soften more rapidly in areas where overnight clouds kept the snow surface warmer last night, but on the other hand continued clouds throughout the day could cut-down the sun slopes receive and lessen the amount they soften.
Besides loose-wet snow instability, the combination of firm melt-freeze crusts on solar aspects before they soften and areas with firm wind-board on more northerly aspects create an even greater hazard to backcountry travelers with slide-for-life conditions. Consider carrying and using crampons and an ice ax or whippet, and don’t be afraid to turn around or change your route due to firm conditions.
Observations throughout the area have been of increasing small point releases as slopes warm with sun exposure
Spring-like conditions will continue for the next few days into at least early next week with above average warm temperatures, low winds, and mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies.
Highs today (Friday) will reach near 50 degrees at 10,000’, with high clouds increasing in the afternoon, and light west wind at upper elevations. Tonight temperatures should drop below freezing
Saturday expect more of the same, with highs near 50 degrees at 10,000’, very light northerly winds at upper elevations, and mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies.
Long-Term: High pressure with warm temperatures, clear skies and light winds should continue through early next week before a minor disturbance will likely bring some increased winds Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon.