My weather forecast on Wednesday didn’t really behave. Skies remained mostly-cloudy over the Elks and Sawatch, where light snow showers and flurries continued well into the afternoon hours. Winds also remained elevated and temperatures stayed relatively cool. In short, nothing really changed. You can find the same wind-drifted slabs at upper elevations today. Not all of these slabs are reactive, but don’t be surprised if you can get one to pop.
Although unlikely, the potential still exists for avalanches breaking on buried weak layers in the middle and lower snowpack. It’s difficult to identify this problem on most slopes. Sensitivity has reduced to stubborn, and it’s been a while since we’ve seen a large avalanche. It’s more of a “mindset” thing at this point, which should weigh into your decision making and terrain selection. Slope angle remains your best tool to avoid an unlikely, but inherently-dangerous event.
As the hot sun rises further into the late-March sky, Loose Wet avalanche concerns come further into focus. We’ve seen steady warming in the mountains over the past 48 hours, and temperatures will peak later today. As a result, we’ll likely see an uptick in wet avalanche activity on steep, rocky slopes. Be careful at lower elevations and even near the trailhead as you start and end your tours today.
A warm and wet Pacific storm is on the horizon this evening, and conditions in the backcountry could turn interesting by Friday morning. Heavy, wet snow, rain, and strong winds are all possible depending on elevation. It’s a good idea to check back here Friday morning, as conditions will likely be much different than what you find out there today.