Winter has returned to the North San Juan zone, but with winters re-arrival we are once again dealing with dangerous avalanche conditions. Snow totals thus far are in the double digits for most of the forecast area. Red Mountain Pass and the Telluride area are the big winners with over 18 inches as of 5am. Strong winds accompanied the new snow. Winds started out of the south, but shifted to the north as the storm cell passed. The forecast calls for lingering snow showers this morning, but clearing by mid-day.
Today, you can trigger a Storm Slab avalanche on all steep slopes where you find 8 inches or more of new or wind-drifted snow. With the shift in wind during the storm this issue will be widespread. It is hard to know how well the new snow is bonding, but with reports of natural avalanche activity around Red Mountain Pass this morning, expect touchy conditions near and above treeline. If skies clear this afternoon watch for Loose avalanches on sunny slopes as the new snow warms.
I know we are all jonesing for powder, but take a conservative approach today. Conditions have change dramatically over the past 24 hours.
The Friends of CAIC have launched their spring fundraising campaign in an effort to raise $50,000 to support avalanche forecasting and education in Colorado. Every dollar counts. Donate today and support your avalanche center! https://avalanche.state.co.us/donate/