Avalanche Watch Issued: Monday, February 19, 2018 at 7:00 AM
Expires: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 at 12:00 PM

A winter storm is expected to impact our forecast area throughout the day on Monday. The avalanche danger is expected to rise to HIGH (Level 4) by early evening. Large dangerous human triggered avalanches are likely today and will become very likely as the snow adds up. If you trigger one of these avalanches it will most likely break at the ground and will entrain the entire season’s snowpack. Watch for rapidly changing conditions and the increasing threat of natural avalanches during the day on Monday as new snow adds up.

  • Backcountry Avalanche Forecast
  • Forecast Discussion

Mon, Feb 19, 2018 at 6:59 AM
Issued by: CBAC

Today

 

Tomorrow

Considerable (3) Dangerous avalanche conditions. Cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making essential.   High (4) Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended.
Considerable (3) Dangerous avalanche conditions. Cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making essential.   High (4) Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended.
Considerable (3) Dangerous avalanche conditions. Cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making essential.   Considerable (3) Dangerous avalanche conditions. Cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making essential.
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Summary

There is no new snow to report this morning, but the next large winter storm is literally trying to blow your house down. With extreme southwest winds in the forecast and incoming snow, the avalanche danger will rise quickly today. We are forecasted to reach HIGH avalanche danger shortly after dark, with very dangerous avalanche conditions developing. As the snow piles up this afternoon, natural avalanche activity will increase with the threat of some very large and destructive avalanches late in the day. 

The last round of natural avalanches was just last Friday night, such as this destructive avalanche off of Gothic Mountain hitting the valley bottom. Winds and new snow will be straining start zones on northerly and easterly facing slopes. Stay aware of avalanche paths above you and don’t linger below alpine start zones. Both persistent slab avalanches and windslab avalanches will be large and potentially destructive. These avalanche problems will become very sensitive to human triggering. Keep your slope angels near or below 30 degrees with cautious route-finding and conservative decision making.

You can go ski or ride the fresh snow today, but awareness of your surroundings and changing conditions will be key. Discuss your route with partners in a warm and dry location this morning and note where you will be exposed to potential overhead hazards. If you are finding 10” or more of new snow, then snowfall in your area is exceeding forecasts and the avalanche danger is rising quicker then expected. Planning to return home in the early afternoon will help avoid the most dangerous part of the day. 

 

Avalanche Problem

 
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What You Need to Know About These Avalanches


Persistent slabs can be triggered by light loads and weeks after the last storm. You can trigger them remotely and they often propagate across and beyond terrain features that would otherwise confine wind and storm slabs. Give yourself a wide safety buffer to handle the uncertainty.

Avalanche Problem

 
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What You Need to Know About These Avalanches


Wind slabs can take up to a week to stabilize. They are confined to lee and cross-loaded terrain features and can be avoided by sticking to sheltered or wind scoured areas.

Avalanche Problem

 
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What You Need to Know About These Avalanches


Loose wet avalanches occur where water is running through the snowpack, and release at or below the trigger point. Avoid 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.

Archived Forecasts

  • Select Forecast: Valid

Mon, Feb 19, 2018 at 8:08 AM
Issued by: CBAC  

Our friends to the north, in the Aspen area, are already at HIGH avalanche danger. They have already started accumulating snow this morning and have been one step ahead on the natural avalanche cycle. Our forecast area is following closely behind. The Kebler Pass and Paradise Divide areas will be the first to see new snow pile up and get further loaded into start zones by extreme southwest winds, increasing the threat of natural avalanches. The rest of our forecast area will be slower to see significantly increased avalanche activity but also has a weaker snowpack that will handle less load. We are at the cusp of another big avalanche cycle. Seeing how the storm pans out will be a big player in the extended avalanche danger.

Last weeks prolonged storm slowly added up to the tipping point, with many large and some very large and destructive natural avalanches. Head back through the observations or see some examples in the media gallery below. We are now teetering on the edge of the tipping point again with today's weather forecast. HIGH avalanche danger with very dangerous avalanche conditions will be the outcome for tonight and tomorrow if the weather forecast verifies. 

Some of last weeks natural avalanches were reported to be near 10 feet deep in wind loaded terrain. Hard to believe I know given this winters total snowfall being so far below normal. Depending on how this storm pans out, we could see a deep persistent slab avalanche problem added to the list by tomorrow. Our current persistent slab avalanche problem could still be very large today. This avalanche size should have you putting extra thought into your regrouping areas and considering your overhead hazard.

Reported By: Evan Ross

Five Day Trend

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