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

Tue, Feb 19, 2019 at 6:45 AM
Issued by: Matt Huber

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.   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

  • No Rating
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    Low
  • 2
    Moderate
  • 3
    Considerable
  • 4
    High
  • 5
    Extreme

Summary

 You can trigger an avalanche today. The most dangerous terrain will be near  treeline on northwest to east to south facing slopes. These slopes are where recent wind and snow have placed the heaviest loads on the weaker layers below, making it more likely to trigger a large and possibly inescapable avalanche. Triggering an avalanche on other aspects and  slopes below treeline is becoming more difficult, but the consequences remain the same.  If you trigger an avalanche at any elevation, it can be large enough to bury you. 

Watch for and avoid wind-loaded slopes near ridgelines, cornices, and cross-loaded gullies. Wind-loaded slopes will have a smoothed out, pillowy appearance and feel stiffer. Watch for cracks and collapsing in the new or recently drifted snow as obvious signs of unstable snow.  If you are unsure in your assessment, stick to slopes less than 30 degrees without steep connected terrain. 

3 to 5 inches of light and fluffy snow is expected today with light winds. Winds are forecast to increase tomorrow and you can expect to see drifting snow and small wind-slabs develop as winds increase.

 

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


Deep Persistent Slab avalanches are destructive and deadly events that can release months after the weak layer was buried. They are scarce compared to Storm or Wind Slab avalanches. Their cycles include fewer avalanches and occur over a larger region. You can triggered them from well down in the avalanche path, and after dozens of tracks have crossed the slope. Avoid the terrain identified in the forecast and 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


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


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, Feb 19, 2019 at 12:04 PM by Mike Cooperstein Statewide Weather Forecast
  Tuesday Night Wednesday Wednesday Night
Temperature (ºF) -7 to -2 9 to 14 0 to 5
Wind Speed (mph) 6 to 16 5 to 15 8 to 18
Wind Direction W SW SSW
Sky Cover Mostly Cloudy Mostly Cloudy Overcast
Snow (in) 0 0 to 1 2 to 4

Archived Forecasts

  • Select Forecast: Valid

Tue, Feb 19, 2019 at 7:28 AM
Issued by: Matt Huber Statewide Weather Forecast  

 The small pulses of snowfall forecast for the Central Mountains during the early part of this week are not likely to drastically affect the overall avalanche danger. Today's storm is expected to bring 3 to 5 inches of light and fluffy snow to most of the Central Mountains with light winds. As west winds increase tomorrow, you can expect to find small, wind-slabs developing on easterly facing slopes. The current conditions near the surface are worth noting before they become buried. Recently, periods of cold and clear conditions have been helping to form near surface facets on the shady aspects. The lengthening daylight hours are building crusts on the sunny slopes. Generally speaking, new snow doesn’t typically bond well with crusts or near surface facets.

The upper snowpack generally consists of the recent, lower density snow resting on top of the Valentines day storm and the early February storm. Depending on location, the early February layer is resting on buried facets, crusts and on the Grand Mesa, a thin graupel layer. We are finding that many of the large avalanches that occurred during this last cycle initiated in the storm snow and wind-slabs, then broke into deeper layers 4 to 5 feet down. We suspect these deeper failures to be from the late January facets, possibly even the surface hoar layer that formed before the January 16 storm cycle.

Forecasters and observers throughout the Central Mountains seem to be coming to the same conclusion. Although you can trigger avalanches in the upper snowpack that can break into deeply buried weak layers, our snowpack is slowly gaining strength. It is becoming more difficult to trigger an avalanche. As the snowpack increases in depth, it is harder to find the “sweet spot,” where you are more likely to affect the deeper weak layers and trigger an avalanche. The weak layers in the upper snowpack are becoming more resistant to failure, or stubborn, at least for now. We use terms like stubborn to help describe the likelihood of an avalanche, but this season we are also using terms like catastrophic to describe the consequences of an avalanche. We have seen many very large avalanches this season run the full length of the avalanche path. 

 

 

 


  • Grand Mesa Cliffs 2/18/19 (full)
  • Snow stake showing 7 feet of settled snow on the Grand Mesa 2/18/19 (full)

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  • No Rating
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    Low
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    Moderate
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    Considerable
  • 4
    High
  • 5
    Extreme
Avalanche Observations
No relevant backcountry observations found for this forecast

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Field Reports
Report Date Observer Snowpack Obs Avalanches Media
View Mon Feb 18 Matt Huber No No Yes (6)
View Mon Feb 18 Dennis Lytle No No No
View Mon Feb 18 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

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