The spring transition has restarted after a brief hiatus. With another warm day on tap Wednesday, which will be several degrees warmer than Tuesday, the wetting and the snow surface water factory will kick into production even earlier. Easterly-facing slopes with rocks showing may begin to shed loose avalanches by mid-morning. Track the sun around the compass and this same type of avalanche activity will spread to many slopes as the day goes on. Only northwest to north to northeast facing slopes near and above treeline will stay dry.
Cornices remain a significant concern, especially where they are rooted in shallow, rapidly warming snow. Many of these large cornices that grew in size last week face northeast to east to southeast. Their roots (the base of the cornice opposite the overhanging face) will bake in the mid-day sun, growing weaker as the day goes on. Some may fall naturally, but if you walk above them you could trigger a large cornice collapse, which might break much further back than you expect. Give cornices the respect they deserve, increasing the amount of space between you and them.
Last week's avalanche cycle that was triggered by large cornice chunks falling on steep unsupported slopes is still quite relevant. You might have a hard time triggering weak layers near the ground with just your body weight, but a cornice fall could be large enough to initiate a big, dangerous avalanche. An avalanche in motion could provide that trigger too. A spring transition day with rapidly warming temperatures is not the time to push into cliffy or very steep terrain. Consider the consequences of getting caught in an avalanche, including personal consequences to you, and to others.
If you are recreating, please do so responsibly. This includes social distancing requirements, not taking actions that risk pulling emergency service workers away from the important work they’re doing, or compromising their ability to continue that work. Learn more about the CAIC's work during the pandemic here.
Governor Polis issued a Statewide Stay-at-Home order on March 25, 2020 - Learn more here.
Many of Colorado’s counties have issued public health orders that affect travel and recreation. You can start your search for local information here. Here is some information for this zone: Lake County, Chaffee County, and Saguache County