• Backcountry Avalanche Forecast
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Wed, May 1, 2019 at 6:42 AM
Issued by: Jason Konigsberg

Today

 

Tomorrow

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.   Considerable (3) Dangerous avalanche conditions. Cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making essential.
Moderate (2) Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully.   Considerable (3) Dangerous avalanche conditions. Cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making essential.
  Danger Scale

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Summary

Skiers triggered avalanches in wind-drifted snow north of the zone yesterday and a large natural Wind Slab avalanche was observed near Independence Pass. Also, small wet avalanches were triggered below treeline. Both of these avalanche issues will be what you need to watch out for today. Wind-drifted slabs on north through easterly slopes near ridgetop and wet avalanche on all aspects in areas out of the wind and below treeline.

To identify where the wind has drifted harder slabs of snow, look for cracking in the snow surface and feel for generally upside down snow, where more dense slabby-feeling snow sits over softer snow. As for wet avalanches, if the air temperature feels warm to you, the snow surface is probably feeling the effects as well. Snow that gets warm and wet will easily slide on buried crusts. Give the snow a push before committing to any slope to see if you get rollerballs, pinwheeling, and entrainment of the new snow in a loose avalanche.

As winds decrease over the next 24 to 48 hours, the likelihood of triggering an avalanche in wind-drifted snow will decrease. This will not be the case for wet avalanches. With up to 14 inches of snow over the past few days, the storm snow will quickly shed once heated by the sun. This could happen late this afternoon but most likely tomorrow will be the peak period for wet avalanches. 

This is our last zone forecast for the 2018-2019 season. We will continue to issue daily regional forecasts by 3 PM through May.

 

Avalanche Problem

 
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N
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Above Treeline
Near Treeline
Below Treeline
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Avalanche Character Aspect/Elevation Likelihood Size

What You Need to Know About These Avalanches


Wind Slab avalanches release naturally during wind events and can be triggered for up to a week after a wind event. They form in lee and cross-loaded terrain features. Avoid them by sticking to wind sheltered or wind scoured areas.

Avalanche Problem

 
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N
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NE
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Above Treeline
Near Treeline
Below Treeline
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Very Likely
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Avalanche Character Aspect/Elevation Likelihood Size

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
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 Wed, May 1, 2019 at 4:01 AM by Brian Lazar Statewide Weather Forecast
  Wednesday Wednesday Night Thursday
Temperature (ºF) 28 to 33 15 to 20 32 to 37
Wind Speed (mph) 15 to 25 7 to 17 12 to 22
Wind Direction WSW WSW WSW
Sky Cover Mostly Cloudy Partly Cloudy Mostly Cloudy
Snow (in) 2 to 4 0 to 1 0 to 1

Archived Forecasts

  • Select Forecast: Valid

Wed, May 1, 2019 at 6:50 AM
Issued by: Brian Lazar Statewide Weather Forecast  

That was a nice little storm to close out April. The Central Mountains generally picked up around a foot of dense new snow in the last couple days, with snow water equivalent of around 1 to 2 inches. Schofield SNOTEL site picked up 3.5 inches of water with 22 inches of snow.  

This is enough new snow by itself to create Storm Slab avalanches in areas that picked up more than about 10 inches. Warm spring temperatures will promote rapid settlement in the new snow, and you will be able to trigger avalanches 6 to 10 inches thick even in sheltered areas. Strong west to southwest winds are building fresh wind-drifted slabs. The slabs forming on northwest to east to southeast-facing slopes will be thicker (up to 3 or even 4 feet deep) and stiffer. This means avalanches on these slopes will be bigger and more dangerous. 

There is a lot of new storm snow sitting out there, and it's bound to shed off the old snow surface with wet avalanches. This could start this afternoon at lower elevations. It's the first day of May, and the sun will have a significant impact on the new snow. It won’t take much sun for the new snow to start sluffing down-slope. With snow depths around a foot or more, there will be enough new snow for sluffs to entrain additional snow creating larger piles at the bottoms of slopes or in terrain traps.

This is the last day of 10-zone forecasts for the season.  We will continue to issue daily regional (Northern, Central, and Southern Mountains) forecasts and danger ratings through May. Get daily updates at our website colorado.gov/avalanche and please continue to send us your observations! 


  • Foot penetration of about 4 inches at 12,000 feet on a northeast-facing slope. A good sign. (full)
  • Small wet slab avalanche from sometime in April. This path ran full length on March 7th. (full)

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Five Day Trend

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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
Brumley Mon Jun 24 10:00 AM 49 - - - - -
Monarch Pass (050e200) Mon Jun 24 11:14 AM 44 45 4 65 17 -
Independence Pass (082w062) Mon Jun 24 11:14 AM - 11 - 5 - -
Saint Elmo Mon Jun 24 9:00 AM 46 - - - - -
Leadville Mon Jun 24 11:00 AM 52 36 13 350 25 -
Porphyry Creek Mon Jun 24 9:00 AM 41 - 1 307 - -

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