• Backcountry Avalanche Forecast
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Mon, Nov 30, 2020 at 6:37 AM
Issued by: Jason Konigsberg

Monday

 

Tuesday

No Rating (-) Watch for signs of instability like recent avalanches, cracking, and audible collapsing. Avoid traveling on or under similar slopes.   No Rating (-) Watch for signs of instability like recent avalanches, cracking, and audible collapsing. Avoid traveling on or under similar slopes.
Low (1) Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.   Low (1) Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
Low (1) Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.   Low (1) Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
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Summary

Avalanche conditions are generally safe. In most places there is not enough snow coverage for avalanches. If you do find consistent coverage, the snowpack is generally loose, thin and unconsolidated with no overlying slab. The only places where you can trigger a small avalanche are upper-elevation northerly or east-facing slopes. This where the wind has drifted snow. Small areas of hard slabs over softer snow layers exist directly below ridgetop or in steep cross-loaded gullies. These older wind-drifted slabs are hard to detect by surface texture. You will know you are one of these slabs if you go from soft snow that you are sinking into to a supportable feeling snowpack. Keep your guard up if you notice this change underneath of you. 

 

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

 
Weather Forecast for 11,000ft Issued Mon, Nov 30, 2020 at 5:08 AM by Ben Pritchett Statewide Weather Forecast
  Monday Monday Night Tuesday
Temperature (ºF) 24 to 29 9 to 14 17 to 22
Wind Speed (mph) 0 to 10 0 to 10 3 to 13
Wind Direction SW SW NNW
Sky Cover Mostly Clear Partly Cloudy Overcast
Snow (in) 0 0 0 to 1

Archived Forecasts

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Mon, Nov 30, 2020 at 8:08 AM
Issued by: Jeff Davis Statewide Weather Forecast  

Throughout the Central Mountains, avalanche conditions are generally safe in part because of the limited, or lack of coverage on most slopes. The exception to the rule is on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees that face north, northeast, or east where you could still trigger an avalanche that breaks near the ground. These slopes are easy to identify because they are located along or just below ridgelines where previous winds have drifted snow. They will be supportable to your body weight, look rounded and smooth, and be the most inviting slopes for skiers, snowboarders, snowmobilers, and extreme snowshoers. This makes for an especially tricky scenario if you’re an adventurous recreator looking to find some early season riding. In the Sawatch range, Independence Pass to Monarch Pass is where we’re seeing this problem most pronounced.

 

The last skier-triggered avalanche in the Central Mountains was on Friday, November 27th near Crested Butte on a steep, northeast-facing slope on Snodgrass Mountains. The avalanche was small and is a good example of the avalanche you might encounter. 

 

So how come we aren’t seeing larger avalanches? The short answer is the lack of continuity of the weak layer described. Its spotty distribution throughout the snowpack is a barrier to how far and wide the avalanches can break. Now that we have more coverage and the surface snow is weakening that will change once we have a cohesive slab of snow over the current snow surface. 

 

Weather is the architect of all avalanches and right now our current dry weather is not setting us up for a stable future. It’s like building a home (snowpack) on top of a sandy foundation (faceted snow). The current cold clear nights are turning the snow that exists on the ground into weak, sugary snow called facets. These facets are also called persistent weak-layers and are responsible for nearly 70% of all avalanche fatalities. If you’ve lived in Colorado for many years you’re already familiar with this problem as this is a common setup for the Colorado snowpack.

  

Looking ahead, we’ll have a small storm move through the area tomorrow. Snowfall from the storm looks to be minimal with only two to four inches of snow likely. We’ll watch to see what happens with the wind speed and direction but overall avalanche conditions won’t change drastically. Eventually, more snow will arrive and when it does we will be building a slab on a weak pre-existing snowpack. For now, enjoy the nice weather and generally safe avalanche conditions.


  • Avalanche investigation on Snodgrass
  • Large shooting crack on northeast slope above treeline. Nov. 26, 2020 (full)

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