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Wed, Nov 22, 2017 at 7:39 AM
Issued by: blase reardon

Today

 

Tomorrow

No Rating (-) Watch for signs of instability like recent avalanches, cracking, and audible collapsing. Avoid traveling on or under similar slopes.   No Rating (-) Watch for signs of instability like recent avalanches, cracking, and audible collapsing. Avoid traveling on or under similar slopes.
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.
  Danger Scale

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Summary

The avalanche danger in the Grand Mesa zone is isolated to steep, shaded slopes at upper elevations. In this terrain, recent storm and drifted snow buried old, weak snow. Where this structure exists, you can trigger small avalanches that break a foot or more deep. These can be dangerous if they carry you into a terrain trap or bury you when you're not wearing a beacon. Wind speeds picked up Tuesday morning, and the westerly winds may have drifted some snow onto easterly slopes. This danger is isolated, because there's not much snow available for transport. Be suspicious of steep slopes with fresh drifts.

In most of the zone, the snow cover is shallow and discontinuous. Be on the lookout for areas where the ground cover is no longer visible. The slopes with the best coverage are also the slopes where you're most likely to trigger an avalanche. Avoid being on or under slopes steeper than about 35 degrees if you feel any collapses or see shooting cracks. 

 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: LOW(Level 1). Isolated slopes where you can trigger avy that breaks near ground. NW-N-NE near treeline. Nov 22, 7:22 AM
@CAIC: LOW(L1). Av danger isolated 2 high cold shady slopes. Enuf snow 2 ride=enuf snow 2 slide. Nov 21, 8:10 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
N
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Above Treeline
Near Treeline
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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) 30 to 35 45 to 50 30 to 35
Wind Speed (mph) 2 to 12 5 to 15 5 to 15
Wind Direction NNW W SW
Sky Cover Mostly Clear Partly Cloudy Partly Cloudy
Snow (in) 0 0 0

Archived Forecasts

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Wed, Nov 22, 2017 at 7:17 AM
Issued by: blase reardon Statewide Weather Forecast  

Welcome back to backcountry zone summaries for the 2017-18 season! This season's snowpack began building after snow fell in early October snowfall. Shallow snow so early in the season creates the potential for lingering Persistent Slab avalanche problems. That prompted us to write a blog discussing our potential paths going forward, and none of them looked great for snow stability. Unfortunately, it looks like the poor snowpack structure came to fruition and may linger well into the season.

The snow that fell in October and didn't melt off has gradually metamorphosed into weak basal facets and crust-facet combinations. In the Grand Mesa zone, these trouble spots are limited to high, cold slopes (generally those facing northwest through north to east), so this worrisome layer of basal facets isn't widespread. The Grand Mesa zone didn't receive much snow from Friday's storm, but in other zones it was enough to test of the weak foundation. 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. Expect similar conditions in the limited areas where the Grand Mesa received eight inches or more of recent and drifted snow.

That means the most dangerous 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.

 


  • An example of shooting cracks on an ENE aspect. Sawatch zone, 11-18-17. (full)
  • Snowpack observations in Sawatch zone, 11.18.17. Similar conditions likely exist on isolated slopes in the Grand Mesa zone.

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Avalanche Observations
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Field Reports
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Weather Observations
Station Date Time Temperature Relative Humidity Wind Speed Wind Direction Max Gust 24 Hr Snow
Grand Mesa - Skyway Point Wed Nov 22 8:00 PM 33 89 1 52 4 0.2
Mesa Lakes Wed Nov 22 7:00 PM 35 - - - - -
Overland Res. Wed Nov 22 7:00 PM 34 - - - - -
Park Reservoir Wed Nov 22 7:00 PM 35 - - - - -

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