• Backcountry Avalanche Forecast
  • Forecast Discussion
  • Observations & Weather Data

Thu, Mar 4, 2021 at 6:58 AM
Issued by: Mike Floyd

Thursday

 

Friday

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.
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.
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.
  Danger Scale

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Summary

Snowfall throughout the day will increase your chances of triggering a dangerous avalanche. You can trigger a small avalanche of the new snow or a much larger avalanche that breaks deeper into old snow near the ground. Although unlikely, these large avalanches are hard to predict and may be impossible to escape. You may not get any warning of deep instability such as collapsing in the snow.

In this risky situation, you can reduce your chance of triggering these monster avalanches by avoiding steep, north, northeast, east, and southeast-facing slopes.

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Please remember to recreate responsibly, including following state and local public health orders and social distancing recommendations.

 

Avalanche Problem

 
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N
S
E
W
NW
NE
SE
SW
Above Treeline
Near Treeline
Below Treeline
Certain
Very Likely
Likely
Possible
Unlikely
Historic
Very Large
Large
Small
Avalanche Character Aspect/Elevation Likelihood Size

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

 
problem icon
N
S
E
W
NW
NE
SE
SW
Above Treeline
Near Treeline
Below Treeline
Certain
Very Likely
Likely
Possible
Unlikely
Historic
Very Large
Large
Small
Avalanche Character Aspect/Elevation Likelihood Size

What You Need to Know About These Avalanches


Storm Slab avalanches release naturally during snow storms and can be triggered for a few days after a storm. They often release at or below the trigger point. They exist throughout the terrain. Avoid them by waiting for the storm snow to stabilize.

Avalanche Problem

 
problem icon
N
S
E
W
NW
NE
SE
SW
Above Treeline
Near Treeline
Below Treeline
Certain
Very Likely
Likely
Possible
Unlikely
Historic
Very Large
Large
Small
Avalanche Character Aspect/Elevation Likelihood Size

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 Fri, Mar 5, 2021 at 4:20 AM by Mike Floyd Statewide Weather Forecast
  Thursday Thursday Night Friday
Temperature (ºF) 32 to 37 15 to 20 33 to 38
Wind Speed (mph) 5 to 15 5 to 15 8 to 18
Wind Direction ENE WSW SW
Sky Cover Clear Clear Mostly Clear
Snow (in) 0 0 0

Archived Forecasts

  • Select Forecast: Valid

Thu, Mar 4, 2021 at 8:48 AM
Issued by: Polly Layton Statewide Weather Forecast  

As a storm moves into the state, new snow will fall on a variety of surfaces, depending on aspect and elevation. The storm snow will likely be quite reactive to human and machine traffic across aspects and elevations. However, accumulation amounts are expected to be a foot or less, keeping hazard low, despite its reactive quality.  Expect deeper storm slabs on leeward slopes near and above treeline, particularly in areas that favor a southwest flow like Crested Butte and Marble. Tomorrow's warm-up will likely bring increased activity.  

Protracting large, dangerous avalanches breaking on the January 19 facets, or perhaps even deeper, on the December 11 facet layer remain the biggest concern. New snow today will not be enough to increase this hazard, but it hasn't gone away either. 

In shallower parts of the region, where a thinner slab overlies the weak facets near the ground, cracking and whumphfing are still prevenient with propagating test results. These signs signal continued instability in the snowpack. A heightened awareness while traveling in and around all avalanche terrain in these areas remains necessary. If you find less than about 130cm of total snow with a stiffer layer over weaker snow, use extra caution. The Castle Creek Basin in the Aspen zone is an example of one of these places.

In other areas, like around Leadville, the slab was thin enough and the temperatures are cold enough, the slab over the weak layer has faceted out the slab. Only the weak layer remains, leaving less avalanche hazard in its wake.

Some places have 125cm of snow or more over the weak facets near the ground. Triggering an avalanche in these areas is less likely. However, a large and deadly could result if you find a thinner area. Trigger points are usually found around shallow, rocky areas near cliff bands, roll-overs, along the edges of the slope, or near a ridge. These shallow trigger points are not always visible and may be covered by just an inch or two of snow. The northwest corner of the Gunnison zone, as well as the southwest corner of Aspen, and parts of Grand Mesa are likely places to find these conditions. 

The bottom line comes down to surface instabilities won't increase the hazard in many places. The persistent weak layer of facets buried in the snowpack keeps the white dragon of large deadly avalanches lurking across the region in all avalanche terrain. Travel accordingly.  


  • This is a good example of all the things you don't want when triggering an avalanche remains possible. Thick trees, gullies, and non-planer slopes make terrain like this a poor choice in the current conditions. (full)
  • Here is an example of a small, planer slope, with a favorable runout. March 3, 2021. (full)

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Avalanche Observations
Report Date # Elevation Aspect Type Trigger SizeR SizeD
View Tue Mar 2 - >TL SW WL N R1 D1
View Tue Mar 2 - >TL SW WL N R1 D1.5

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Field Reports
Report Date Observer Snowpack Obs Avalanches Media
View Tue Mar 2 Jason Konigsberg No Yes (2) No

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Weather Observations
Station Date Time Temperature Relative Humidity Wind Speed Wind Direction Max Gust 24 Hr Snow
Cottonwood Pass Fri Mar 5 4:00 AM 15 85 4 359 8 6.2
Leadville Fri Mar 5 5:00 AM 9 84 5 110 - -

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