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Fri, Mar 24, 2017 at 6:42 AM
Issued by: Scott Toepfer

Today

 

Tomorrow

Moderate (2) Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully.   Moderate (2) Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully.
Low (1) Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.   Low (1) Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
Low (1) Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.   Low (1) Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
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Summary

Colder temperatures have returned bringing a halt to our wet avalanches concerns. Across the zone some 3 to 5 inches of new snow fell since Thursday evening. The new snow came with winds shifting from southwest to north. Wind speeds were ideal to drift the new snow onto southerly facing slopes. The new snow had some high water content, which combined with the northerly winds, created ideal slab building conditions.

The below treeline elevation band had a good freeze, so no issues there, but the near treeline elevation band is a bit trickier, as riders could find some isolated small Wind Slab avalanches in steep, lee terrain features like couloirs, and cross loaded open slopes. These should be small enough to manage, unless terrain features like cliffs and rock outcrops come into play.

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Recent Tweets

@CAIC: MOD (L2) New snow and moderate to strong north winds built Wind Slab avalanches above treeline for Friday Mar 24, 7:16 AM
@CAIC: MOD (L2) today. New snow and increasing winds bring transition from spring to winter avalanche worries today. Mar 23, 7:23 AM

Avalanche Problem

 
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What You Need to Know About These Avalanches


Wind Slab avalanches release naturally during wind events and can be triggered for up to a week after a wind event. They form in lee and cross-loaded terrain features. Avoid them by sticking to wind sheltered or wind scoured areas.

Avalanche Problem

 
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What You Need to Know About These Avalanches


Wet Slab avalanches occur when there is liquid water in the snowpack, and can release during the first few days of a warming period. Travel early in the day and avoid avalanche terrain when you see pinwheels, roller balls, loose wet avalanches, or during rain-on-snow events.

Avalanche Problem

 
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N
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Above Treeline
Near Treeline
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Avalanche Character Aspect/Elevation Likelihood Size

What You Need to Know About These Avalanches


Persistent Slab avalanches can be triggered days to weeks after the last storm. They often propagate across and beyond terrain features that would otherwise confine Wind and Storm Slab avalanches. In some cases they can be triggered remotely, from low-angle terrain or adjacent slopes. Give yourself a wide safety buffer to address the uncertainty.

Weather Forecast for 11,000ft Issued Sat, Mar 25, 2017 at 4:27 AM by Mike Cooperstein Statewide Weather Forecast
  Friday Friday Night Saturday
Temperature (ºF) 35 to 40 20 to 25 30 to 35
Wind Speed (mph) 5 to 15 5 to 15 5 to 15
Wind Direction WSW WSW WNW
Sky Cover Increasing Overcast Mostly Cloudy
Snow (in) 0 1 to 3 0 to 2

Archived Forecasts

  • Select Forecast: Valid

Fri, Mar 24, 2017 at 7:39 AM
Issued by: Scott Toepfer Statewide Weather Forecast  

New snow amounts from the Thursday night storm, when combined with moderate winds that shifted from southwest to north and at times northeast have conspired to bring a return to winter avalanche problems.

Old snow surfaces before the Thursday night storm above treeline varied from smooth and polished to rough and dirty. The new snow reports we have so far show a fairly high water content in the new snow. The combination of wind drifting and this high water content new snow is a great recipe for the development of Wind Slab avalanches. Currently winds are generally north, so these wind slabs will continue to grow Friday into Saturday. These are mostly confined to the above treeline elevation band, but riders should not completely ignore the near treeline elevation band for this type of avalanche.They would be isolated near treeline, and generally manageable if you do find one, unless a terrain trap comes into play. Cliffs, gullies, and trees come to mind.

The Sawatch zone is well known for strong winds, so consider Wind Slab avalanches in the near treeline elevation band until proven otherwise. Don't forget that avalanches starting above treeline can run down into the near treeline elevation band as well.



  • Wet Slab / Glide Crack release on an east aspect of Purple Palace, west of Crested Butte in the Gunnison zone. 3/18 (full)

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Five Day Trend

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Avalanche Observations
No relevant backcountry observations found for this forecast

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Field Reports
Report Date Observer Snowpack Obs Avalanches Media
View Fri Mar 24 John Mackinnon No No No
View Thu Mar 23 No No No

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Weather Observations
Station Date Time Temperature Relative Humidity Wind Speed Wind Direction Max Gust 24 Hr Snow
Brumley Sat Mar 25 4:00 AM 18 - - - - -
Cottonwood Pass Sat Mar 25 4:00 AM 23 59 10 297 18 -
Monarch Pass (050e200) Sat Mar 25 5:10 AM 20 83 6 175 7 -
Independence Pass (082w062) Sat Mar 25 5:25 AM - 11 - 5 - -
Saint Elmo Sat Mar 25 4:00 AM 24 - - - - -
Leadville Sat Mar 25 5:00 AM 18 74 6 60 - -
Porphyry Creek Sat Mar 25 4:00 AM 19 - - - - -

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