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Wed, Nov 22, 2017 at 6:50 AM
Issued by: Brian Lazar

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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

The Gunnison zone only picked up an inch or two at best in the last 24 hours, and this will not change avalanche conditions. Snow coverage is thin and discontinuous, with slim prospects for improvement in the near term. The slopes with the best coverage are also the slopes where you're most likely to trigger an avalanche. This video is a good depiction of current conditions.  Treat areas where the ground cover like rocks and bushes are no longer visible and poking through the snow surface as suspect. This indicates that the recent storm snow fell on top of older weaker snow. You can trigger avalanches from a distance and from below in these areas. These conditions are not widespread, but where they exist, you can trigger an avalanche big enough to drag you through the rocks or even bury you. This avalanche in the adjacent Aspen zone is a good illustration of what you want to avoid. 

The Friends of CAIC are hosting the 10th Annual CAIC Benefit Bash on December 2, 2017 in Breckenridge The funds from this event go to support the CAIC and these backcountry forecasts. It’s an event not to miss. For more information and to purchase tickets visit: https://adecadedeep.eventbrite.com.

 

Recent Tweets

@CAIC: MOD(Level 2) Northerly slopes with good coverage are the most likely place to trigger a Persistent Slab avy Nov 22, 7:40 AM
@CAIC: Avalanche season up high. B alert 4 cracks whumpfs fresh drifts on/below slopes >35 deg. MOD(L2) ATL. Nov 21, 8:39 AM

Avalanche Problem

 
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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.

Avalanche Problem

 
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What You Need to Know About These Avalanches


Loose Wet avalanches occur when water is running through the snowpack, and release at or below the trigger point. Avoid very steep slopes and terrain traps such as cliffs, gullies, or tree wells. Exit avalanche terrain when you see pinwheels, roller balls, a slushy surface, or during rain-on-snow events.

Avalanche Problem

 
problem icon
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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 Wed, Nov 22, 2017 at 11:51 AM by Brian Lazar Statewide Weather Forecast
  Wednesday Night Thursday Thursday Night
Temperature (ºF) 27 to 32 42 to 47 27 to 32
Wind Speed (mph) 10 to 20 5 to 15 5 to 15
Wind Direction NNW WNW W
Sky Cover Partly Cloudy Mostly Clear Partly Cloudy
Snow (in) 0 0 0

Archived Forecasts

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Wed, Nov 22, 2017 at 7:26 AM
Issued by: Brian Lazar Statewide Weather Forecast  

Not much to update in the Gunnison zone, as the weak storm system that passed by over the last 36 hours only dusted the forecast zone. I'll republish yesterday's discussion which describes our early season set up.  This will help put incoming observations and weather changes into context over the near term.

The snow that fell in October and didn't melt off gradually transitioned into weak basal facets and crust-facet combinations. The saving grace is that the early season snow did melt off in most places, so this worrisome snowpack foundation isn't widespread. It is confined to above treeline slopes that face northwest to north to east. But, on these slopes you can easily trigger an avalanche. The storm event from last week provided the first test of the weak foundation, and it did not hold up well. Anywhere the new storm snow fell on a preexisting snowpack, we saw evidence of instability: avalanches, shooting cracks, and propagating snowpack tests. 

The danger is MODERATE (Level 2) because the suspect slopes are not widespread, natural avalanches are unlikely,  and due to lack of snow coverage, very large avalanches are also unlikely. But, the most suspect slopes are also the most attractive for recreating. We're going to be lured to slopes with deeper coverage.  Despite all the rocks, shrubs, and bare ground poking through the thin snow coverage in most places, it is avalanche season up high.

Be cautious near, on, or below, any slope steeper than about 30 degrees that looks like rocks and shrubs are buried and no longer visible. This near miss in the adjacent Aspen zone is exactly the type of event we want to avoid. You can trigger avalanches from below or from a distance. Give yourself a wide buffer around potential avalanche terrain to account for this unpredictability.  The Persistent Slab avalanche problem will be with us for a while. 

On other slopes, you're biggest risk it hitting shallowly buried obstacles. It's still early, don't blow your whole season getting injured nailing something.

 


  • Profile overview near Schofield Pass 11.20.17 (full)
  • Video update of early season conditions 11.18.17

See more photos & videos

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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 Mon Nov 20 Crested Butte Avalanche Center No No Yes (1)
View Mon Nov 20 Ben Pritchett No No Yes (4)
View Sun Nov 19 Evan Ross No No Yes (2)

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Weather Observations
Station Date Time Temperature Relative Humidity Wind Speed Wind Direction Max Gust 24 Hr Snow
Elkton Wed Nov 22 7:00 PM 32 89 15 319 25 -
Park Cone Wed Nov 22 7:00 PM 42 - - - - 4.0
Taylor Park Wed Nov 22 7:57 PM 37 76 12 313 22 -

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