Freeze-thaw conditions lead to predictable avalanche danger that is usually low in the morning and increases quickly midday as temperatures increase and sun warms the snowpack. This is true of the upper snowpack, and at elevations below 5000ft. Above 5000ft however, the snowpack is still somewhat wintery, with at least one significant layer of facets lurking 45-100cm deep. Multiple groups have reported finding this compressed facet layer in snowpits above 5000ft. Strength on this layer has been moderate in tests. The takeaway is this: wet slides will be the primary concern everywhere but high North aspects. But in high elevations where the skiing is good, there is still a chance of triggering a deep persistent slab. Use extra caution.
Problem #1: Wet Slides
Location: ALL aspects below 5500ft, slopes steeper than 30 degrees, from midday-on.
Strong solar radiation and warm weather will stress the upper snowpack each afternoon. Travel sunny slopes in the early morning while the snow is still frozen. If the snow is softening to ankle-deep or more, it is time to move to shadier aspects or low-angle terrain. Steep south aspects and warm, rocky slopes will have an increased chance of deep, destructive natural climax avalanches. Wet-loose sluffs may gouge deep and carry a person into dangerous terrain.
Problem #2: Persistent Slab
Location: Above 5,000ft. All aspects but especially cooler NW-N-NE-facing terrain.
Uncertainty: moderate to high.
Avalanche Size: Medium to Large
A weak layer of persistent facets remains 45-100cm deep at higher elevations. This layer has been reactive in snowpits, and some whumphing was reported from the Nadahini area. If you were to trigger this deep stubborn layer, propagation would be wide and consequences high. Keep it in mind, dig around to look for signs of this danger, and use extra caution right now. Thin areas near rocks and ridgelines will be likely trigger points for these deep facet layers. Stick to areas of deeper snowpack to minimize your risk of triggering this layer.
Temperatures have been reliably freeze-thaw for the last several days. Sunshine has been strong during the day, and winds light. Temperatures are reaching into the upper 30's F in the high-alpine. This trend looks to continue for the weekend. Monday-Tuesday may be significantly warmer.
Snow Depth [in]
Last 24-hr Snow/SWE [in]
Last 3-days Snow/SWE [in]
Today's Freezing Level [ft]
Next 48-hr Snow/SWE
0" / 0.00
0" / 0.00 *
0" / 0.00 *
( *star means meteorological estimate )
If you get out riding, please send in an observation!
Do a rescue practice with your partners. Always carry a beacon, shovel, and probe, and KNOW HOW TO USE THEM.
Practice good risk management, which means only expose one person at a time to slopes 30 degrees and steeper, make group communication and unanimous decision making a priority, and choose your terrain wisely: eliminating unnecessary exposure and planning out your safe zones and escape routes.
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