An energetic storm and a very weak snowpack combined to produce both natural and human triggered avalanches yesterday. Today Storm Slabs breaking in the new snow layer and Persistent Slabs breaking at the old snow surface and into old layers are the most dangerous avalanche problems. Steep slopes at all elevations and wind-load areas near and above treeline are the most dangerous.
Thanks for the recent observations! Please keep them coming! This will allow us to produce a more detailed forecast with higher confidence.
The avalanche danger for the Front Range zone CONSIDERABLE (Level 3) on all aspects and at all elevations.
Storm totals in the Front Range zone range from about 10” in the northern part of the zone, 6” in the southern part of the zone, and 18” on Berthoud Pass. The new snow fell on a variety of weak surface snow layers, including some very fragile surface hoar. On Wednesday there were both natural and human triggered avalanches reported from the Berthoud Pass and Loveland Pass areas. Most of these broke at the base of the new snow, but with fresh slabs 1 to 2 feet think, these slide are big enough to kill a backcountry traveler. You will find these conditions again today. There are also some deeper buried weak layers, especially on slopes that face northwest, north, northeast, and east. Near and above treeline areas are the most dangerous. If you can still trigger avalanches into one of these old snow layers or weak snow near the ground. These will be both large and dangerous avalanches.
Cold air has settled into the state and temperatures will remain bitter into the weekend. A few clouds will stream into the state tonight as the next low-pressure trough approaches from the northwest. This system will bring another shot of cold air and some moisture into the state after midnight. Expect overnight low temperatures to be well below zero. Some clouds, fog, and a few snow showers are possible overnight. This system will keep skies partly to mostly cloudy on Friday. Temperature will slowly rebound as we move into the weekend just in time for another very cold system to bring snow back to the mountains early Sunday morning.