A brief winter storm on Christmas night brought a substantial load of new low-density snow to areas north of June lake, while the more southern reaches of the forecast area saw very little. This has led to a significant discrepancy in corresponding avalanche danger and problem distribution. While storm instabilities, particularly loose dry avalanche potential has been a real concern in areas north of Mammoth, these concerns have been much less in areas that received less snow. Wind slabs will be the exception to this trend. While there is certainly more snow available for transport in the northern reaches of the forecast area, the risk of sensitive wind slabs will be present throughout the range. Be on the lookout for fresh wind loading regardless of where you decide to make your weekend plans.
If you do decide to venture into areas north of June Lake, expect the potential size of wind slabs to increase substantially. It’s also worth extra caution in steep confined terrain that is more sheltered from the wind where there is still a chance of loose dry activity. Even a small loose slough could entrain enough snow to carry a skier through unpleasant terrain.
The 2019/20 season has been exceptional thus far here on the east side with several significant storms and unseasonable cold temperatures. While the ski quality has been very good, it is essential to remember that preseason conditions still exist throughout the forecast area. Recent snow has hidden many obstacles, but rocks, fallen trees, open creeks, and other hazards are still lurking just below the surface. Pick your travel routes carefully, slow it down, and lets all hope for another long winter season.