• Backcountry Avalanche Forecast
  • Forecast Discussion

Thu, Dec 13, 2018 at 6:45 AM
Issued by: CBAC

Today

 

Tomorrow

Considerable (3) Dangerous avalanche conditions. Cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making essential.   Moderate (2) Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully.
Considerable (3) Dangerous avalanche conditions. Cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making essential.   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

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Summary

Yesterday afternoon an energetic, but fast moving, cold front crossed the Elk Mountains and dropped a quick 3-7” of snow across the forecast area, accompanied by 30-60mph westerly winds.  While accumulations were generally light, strong westerly winds blowing over the last 48hours have elevated the avalanche danger near and above treeline with building windslabs that may strain the lingering persistent slab 2-6 feet deep.  Careful route finding and avoidance of steep, wind drifted terrain features that look smooth, round, or pillowy will steer you away from the slopes most likely to trigger a windslab or persistent slab avalanche today.  

Below treeline, and across southerly terrain, the risk of avalanche lessens, though persistent slab structure still exists.  Steep, shady, sheltered terrain remains suspect to skiers and riders.  Keep clear of those nasty terrain traps like gullies, road cuts, cliff bands and steep trees that increase the consequences of triggering even a small avalanche. 

 

 

Avalanche Problem

 
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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
Problem Type Aspect/Elevation Likelihood Size

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

 
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
Problem Type Aspect/Elevation Likelihood Size

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

 
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
Problem Type Aspect/Elevation Likelihood Size

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.

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Thu, Dec 13, 2018 at 5:54 AM
Issued by: CBAC  

Welcome to our classic Colorado snowpack!

Even though natural avalanche activity has slowed, do not let your guard down.  Across our forecast area, persistent slab structure is widespread, and carries very high consequences if triggered.  Observers from Cement Creek, to the more popular backcountry areas such as Washington Gulch, the Slate River, and Kebler Pass have noted poor structure reactive in stability tests, and the trickle of large to very large natural avalanches continues on the eastern half of the compass above treeline.  Signs of instability under foot and machine have decreased in areas with deeper snowpacks, but triggering even a small avalanche will carry serious consequences, as illustrated by several close calls within the last week involving skilled avalanche professionals (CBMR, Irwin)

Think back to Halloween, before your big night out on Elk, to the deep recesses of your memory bank.  Think back to the meager snow cover that lingered on the shady northerly to easterly portions of your favorite slopes.  That snow is now buried 2-6 feet deep, and is the culprit (along with a stiffening snowpack above) of our persistent slab problem.  

Slopes which slid during our big Thanksgiving storm have continued to “reload.”  Many of these slopes still hold facets near the ground and will be worth investigating the depth of new slab before committing to these features.  

Another lingering concern is the potential for buried surface hoar which may have been buried within the last week.  This is less of a concern now as it is only likely buried a few inches deep, but mapping its presence and distribution will grow in importance as we accumulate more snow.

Reported By: Ian Havlick

 

 

Five Day Trend

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    Low
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    Moderate
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    Considerable
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    High
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    Extreme