• Backcountry Avalanche Forecast
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Wed, Apr 1, 2020 at 7:40 AM
Issued by: Bill Nalli

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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.
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Summary

In the northern and western portion of the zone, you can still trigger large dangerous avalanches on weak layers buried two to three feet deep. A rider-triggered slide on Tuesday outside of Rico in the adjacent North San Juan zone is a reminder that sensitive weak layers remain in the upper snowpack. These slides may be stubborn but if you manage to find the wrong spot on the wrong slope you can trigger an avalanche that breaks two to three feet deep. Safer riding can be found on lower-angle shadier slopes. You will find fewer weak layers in the snowpack in areas around Wolf Creek Pass.

You can also trigger avalanches in the wet surface snow today. Some of these avalanches will be large enough to injure you. You may find wet snow on southerly-facing aspects at all elevations. A wet sticky snow surface, rollerballs, and small wet avalanches running from steep rocky terrain are signs of increasing danger and signs that you should find a cooler aspect to ride. If you find yourself sinking deeper than about 5 inches into wet, unconsolidated, snow it may be time to call it a day. Start on easterly-facing aspects and move west as the snow surface starts to warm. Think about your egress in the afternoon when conditions will be the most dangerous. Do not get stuck having to exit through steep westerly-facing terrain late in the afternoon.

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If you are recreating, please do so responsibly. This includes following social distancing requirements, not taking actions that risk pulling emergency service workers away from the important work they’re doing, or compromising their ability to continue that work. Learn more about the CAIC’s work during the pandemic here.

Governor Polis issued a Statewide Stay-at-Home order on March 25, 2020 - Learn more here

Many of Colorado’s counties have issued public health orders that affect travel and recreation. You can start your search for local information here. Here is some information for this zone: San Miguel County, San Juan County, Ouray County, and Hinsdale County

 

Avalanche Problem

 
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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

 
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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
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Above Treeline
Near Treeline
Below Treeline
Certain
Very Likely
Likely
Possible
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Very Large
Large
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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.

Weather Forecast for 11,000ft Issued Wed, Apr 1, 2020 at 4:43 AM by Mike Cooperstein Statewide Weather Forecast
  Wednesday Wednesday Night Thursday
Temperature (ºF) 39 to 44 25 to 30 36 to 41
Wind Speed (mph) 12 to 22 10 to 20 24-34 G50
Wind Direction SW WSW SW
Sky Cover Partly Cloudy Partly Cloudy Partly Cloudy
Snow (in) 0 0 0 to 1

Archived Forecasts

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Wed, Apr 1, 2020 at 7:24 AM
Issued by: Mike Cooperstein Statewide Weather Forecast  

A backcountry skier was caught carried and injured in an avalanche on Telescope Mountain near the town of Rico on Tuesday. This avalanche looks eerily similar to the avalanche that injured a skier near the town of Ophir less than a week ago. There are a couple different persistent weak layers buried in the snowpack that you should watch out for. First, weak near-surface facets that developed in late February are now buried under March snowfall. Lower down and closer to the ground, weak facets and depth hoar comprise the lower part of the snowpack where mid-winter snow depths were shallowest, generally less than 120 cm deep. It is essential that before you commit to slopes steeper than 35 degrees you look to determine if this poor structure exists and how reactive it remains. If you’re unable to determine how reactive these weak layers are, stick to slopes less 35 degrees to help reduce your avalanche risk. Always remember that if stability is the question, you can find plenty of safe options on lower angle slopes.

Conditions at present seem to be more dangerous in the North San Juan zone in areas around Highway 145 and in areas east of Silverton. You can find similar conditions in the western half of the South San Juan zone from the La Plata Mountains northward to the Molas Pass as well. Avalanche activity near Wolf Creek Pass has been very limited recently with mostly small avalanche sin the surface snow. We have not had a report of a rider-triggered slide failing on persistent weak layers around Wolf Creek pass in a few weeks.

Yesterday observers reported numerous wet avalanches at all elevations. Some of these avalanches were large enough to injure you. In areas in the  Red Mountain Pass-Telluride-Ophir triangle, where recent snowfall is deepest, expect loose wet slides to be larger and more dangerous. Keep your head on a swivel and watch out from rollerballs and pinwheels as initial clues the snow surface is quickly warming. 

 

Cornices have grown large rather quickly. It’s best to give these beasts extra room while traveling above as they have a tendency to break further back onto ridgelines than you might expect. This kind of large force or trigger can sometimes be just enough to unleash a bigger slide below.

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If you are recreating, please do so responsibly. This includes following social distancing requirements, not taking actions that risk pulling emergency service workers away from the important work they’re doing, or compromising their ability to continue that work. Learn more about the CAIC’s work during the pandemic here.

Governor Polis issued a Statewide Stay-at-Home order on March 25, 2020 - Learn more here

Many of Colorado’s counties have issued public health orders that affect travel and recreation. You can start your search for local information here. Here is some information for this zone: San Miguel CountySan Juan CountyOuray County, and Hinsdale County


  • 2020-03-27 in Southern San Juan (full)
  • Large Natural avalanche on Peak 12,628'. Avalanche triggered by heavy wind-loading during the morning hours. South San Juan Zone, March 26th, 2020. (full)
  • Percolation column on an east aspect below treeline. The pathway for water to reach weaker snow below is already established. South San Juan. March 24, 2020. (full)
  • Snowpit on a north aspect at 11,300 feet. ECTX x 2 on weak facets below March snowfall and near-surface facet layers. Despite non-propagating test results, a weak structure exist below a thick slab and finding a part of the slope with a slightly thinner slab could make impacting weaker snow more likely. South San Juan. March 24, 2020. (full)

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Five Day Trend

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Avalanche Observations
Report Date # Elevation Aspect Type Trigger SizeR SizeD
View Tue Mar 31 - TL E WL N - D1.5
View Tue Mar 31 - >TL E WL N R2 D1.5
View Tue Mar 31 - >TL SE WL N R2 D2
View Tue Mar 31 - >TL SE WL N - D1.5
View Tue Mar 31 - TL E WL N R3 D2
View Tue Mar 31 - TL N SS N R2 D2
View Mon Mar 30 - >TL SE L N R1 D1
View Mon Mar 30 - >TL NE SS N R1 D1
View Mon Mar 30 - TL NW SS N R1 D1.5

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Field Reports
Report Date Observer Snowpack Obs Avalanches Media
View Tue Mar 31 - No Yes (2) Yes (4)
View Tue Mar 31 Mark Mueller No Yes (2) Yes (1)
View Tue Mar 31 Chris Bilbrey No Yes (4) Yes (7)
View Mon Mar 30 Mark Mueller No Yes (1) Yes (2)
View Mon Mar 30 Chris Bilbrey No Yes (2) Yes (7)

See All Field Reports

Weather Observations
Station Date Time Temperature Relative Humidity Wind Speed Wind Direction Max Gust 24 Hr Snow
Wolf Creek Pass Wed Apr 1 8:00 AM 25 62 28 228 42 -

See All Weather Observations