One week ago, the most powerful storm of the winter dropped 1 to almost 2 feet of cold dry snow over the advisory area. The storm was unusual because winds were light and powder piled up without the curse of strong winds creating wind slabs. The main avalanche problem was loose sluffs and everyone enjoyed the best skiing in years.
All things change- after all, this is April. Over the next few days, the air mass will warm as high pressure builds. The sun’s energy is double what it was in January. Snow will transition from a cold winter snow pack to more spring like conditions. Mid elevations will take the brunt of the rapid warming today. I expect the number of loose wet slides to increase in alpine terrain , especially on east to southeast facing slopes.
Rapid warming is one of the obvious signs of instability. When the snow pack is subject to a rapid warming, it can become very wet and unstable, increasing the stress on the overall snow pack. Rollerballs, point releases, and sloughs are all signs of rapid warming.
Unlike the other red flags that tend to appear simultaneously (new snow, winds, natural avalanches), rapid warming may be the only red flag observation you make before the avalanche danger increases significantly.