Avalanche Watch Issued: Tuesday, January 15, 2019 at 7:00 AM
Expires: Wednesday, January 16, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Very dangerous avalanche conditions could develop for the Grand Mesa, Gunnison, Aspen, North San Juan, and South San Juan zones on Wednesday. Forecast snowfall amounts are sufficient to cause a widespread cycle of avalanches large enough to bury a person. Some of these avalanches could release naturally, and they will be very easy for backcountry travelers to trigger. Travel in or below avalanche terrain is not recommended on Wednesday.

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

Tue, Jan 15, 2019 at 7:26 AM
Issued by: Spencer Logan

Today

 

Tomorrow

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.
Moderate (2) Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully.   High (4) Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended.
Moderate (2) Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully.   High (4) Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended.
  Danger Scale

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Summary

You can trigger an avalanche today. There are recent close calls in nearby areas like the Lindley Hut near Aspen. These incidents have been in similar snow conditions as the Grand Mesa, and are good reminders that we dealing with a weak and dangerous snowpack. You will find the most dangerous areas for these types of avalanches near treeline on slopes that are approaching 35 degrees that face northwest to east thru southeast. Look for shooting cracks, collapsing, and whumpfing sounds; take these as sign to move to safer, low-angled terrain.

Below treeline, the snowpack is largely weak and cohesionless. You can trigger sluffs that gouge deep into the snowpack and can easily push you into trees, rocks and gullies. Sinking deep into the snowpack is a good sign to steer clear of steep convex rollovers on open slopes, near rock outcroppings and on steep gully walls.

Conditions will be changing as a storm brings strong southwest wind and snow into the area tonight. Expect dangerous avalanche conditions to develop on Wednesday and we have issued an avalanche watch for the Central and Southern Mountains.

 

Avalanche Problem

 
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N
S
E
W
NW
NE
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SW
Above Treeline
Near Treeline
Below Treeline
Certain
Very Likely
Likely
Possible
Unlikely
Historic
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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 Tue, Jan 15, 2019 at 11:28 AM by Brian Lazar Statewide Weather Forecast
  Tuesday Night Wednesday Wednesday Night
Temperature (ºF) 15 to 20 25 to 30 15 to 20
Wind Speed (mph) 10 to 20 10 to 20 5 to 15
Wind Direction SSW W WSW
Sky Cover Overcast Overcast Mostly Cloudy
Snow (in) 5 to 9 4 to 7 0 to 2

Archived Forecasts

  • Select Forecast: Valid

Tue, Jan 15, 2019 at 8:11 AM
Issued by: Spencer Logan Statewide Weather Forecast  

Although it can be easy to focus on the storm that starts Tuesday evening, we should not ignore the conditions we are dealing with today. Human triggered avalanches and near misses have been reported almost daily throughout the Central Mountains. So the message remains consistent and persistent. Persistent weak layers developed early in the winter and persistent slab avalanches continue to be problematic.

Near and above treeline, our most problematic layer has been a widespread persistent weak layer that formed in mid-December and was buried by storms in late December. Depending on aspect and location, you could find surface hoar, near surface facets, crusts, or some combination. None of these snow grains are known for their ability to bond well, and are notorious weak layers. Last week's storms pushed the weak layers past the tipping point. Although the layers have become less reactive in the past few days, the incoming storm will test them again. The snowpack is deep enough now in most portions of Central Mountains to smooth out ground roughness and subtle terrain features, making it easier for avalanches to become larger and travel farther. If this incoming storm meets or beats expectations, we can expect to see another natural avalanche cycle similar to what we observed in the January 6 to 7 cycle. Or possibly larger avalanche sizes.

Below treeline, cold and clear nights have faceted away the slab that formed during  the January 6 to 7 storm. Loose avalanches are gouging deeper into the depth hoar near the ground. These sluffs can grow very quickly, and become big enough to knock you off of your feet. They can be dangerous if you are in the wrong spot. The incoming storm will load this weak snow structure and make the entire snowpack very sensitive.


  • This avalanche was triggered from below. Jan 14 2019, Aspen Zone. (full)
  • This avalanche was triggered from a distance. Jan 13 2019, Gunnison Zone. (full)

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Five Day Trend

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Avalanche Observations
No relevant backcountry observations found for this forecast

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Field Reports
Report Date Observer Snowpack Obs Avalanches Media
View Tue Jan 15 Dennis Lytle No No No

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Weather Observations
Station Date Time Temperature Relative Humidity Wind Speed Wind Direction Max Gust 24 Hr Snow
Mesa Lakes Wed Jan 16 2:00 AM 28 - - - - 2.0
Park Reservoir Wed Jan 16 2:00 AM 29 - - - - 5.0

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