Special Avalanche Advisory Issued: Saturday, February 16, 2019 at 5:00 AM
Expires: Tuesday, February 19, 2019 at 5:00 AM

A strong storm Thursday night brought 1 to 2 feet of dense snow with strong winds to many mountain locations. As snowfall continues through the holiday weekend, avalanche conditions will remain dangerous in many places throughout Colorado. You can trigger large avalanches that break in new snow large enough to bury a person or even larger avalanches that entrain most of the season's snowpack. Backcountry travelers should consult their specific zone avalanche forecast before heading into the backcountry. All backcountry travelers should carry appropriate rescue gear and avoid dangerous avalanche terrain identified in the zone forecast.

  • Backcountry Avalanche Forecast
  • Forecast Discussion

Sat, Feb 16, 2019 at 6:49 AM
Issued by: CBAC

Today

 

Tomorrow

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.
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.
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.
  Danger Scale

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Summary

Avalanche conditions remain dangerous after an impressive storm that dropped over a foot of very warm, moist snow across the forecast area, accompanied by strong westerly winds.  The snowpack will not be given much of a breather as we will see snowfall redevelop this morning.  Additional loading by today’s storm will keep the avalanche danger pinned on the upper end of CONSIDERABLE.  If snowfall exceeds forecast, the danger may bump to HIGH once again.

Observers yesterday remotely triggered avalanches and gathered photos of fresh avalanches spawned by yesterday’s memorable storm.  Natural avalanche activity dots the mountainsides, with many slides breaking in the storm snow, while others “stepped down” to lingering deeper persistent weak layers.  While these slides were observed on most aspects, they seemed especially concentrated near and above treeline, on steep, convex, and wind loaded terrain features.  

Today is a tricky forecast. We are coming off of high danger yesterday, with another storm set to drop an additional 4-10” quickly with the cold front passage and cranking southwest winds into the 70mph range above treeline.  Travel in avalanche terrain should not be underestimated and is not recommended.  Deeper persistent weak layers will be easiest to trigger and produce large avalanches near or east of Crested Butte where snowpack is generally shallower, but all areas have received a lot of water in 48 hours and nothing should be ruled out.  Avoid steep, convex, and windloaded areas to reduce your hazard today.  Veer away from terrain traps and steep terrain above.   The safest option is low angle meadow skipping once again.

 

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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Above Treeline
Near Treeline
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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.

Archived Forecasts

  • Select Forecast: Valid

Sat, Feb 16, 2019 at 7:10 AM
Issued by: CBAC  

In case you missed it, or just want to clarify a story you heard, KBUT will be airing our latest Fireside Chat with Duane Vandenbuche TODAY, 12 noon, on the West Elk Word.  Tune in, or head to the KBUT website for a listen!

Here are the numbers from the Valentines Day storm of 2019.  While the snowfall numbers are not incredibly impressive, the liquid water equivalents of 1.5-2.3” that fell from the sky in a 12 hour period are.  Accompanied by very strong winds on the storm exit, rather than the traditional storm onset and you now remember why your back and arms are so sore today.  

Moving ahead, we are looking at another fast moving, but potent cold front this morning, which will drop additional snow to a snowpack already reeling from the last roundhouse kick.  All elevations are suspect.  Not all slopes will step down into older layers, but we should assume they will and plan our travel with “worst case” scenario in mind.  The persistent weak layers most concerning is the early February small grained facets buried by last week’s storm, and a couple deeper layers from January consisting of pockets of preserved surface hoar and more widely distributed facets.  These have potential to break widely and 2-5 feet deep.

Play it cool for a little while longer and we should be looking at a great, generally stable snowpack shaping up for the spring.  The persistent weak layers we are managing will grow more unreactive with time.  They do not have the same lifespan as nasty large grain depth hoar we usually deal with.  Patience and restraint now will be the golden ticket for steeper adventures in the future.  

Reported By: Ian Havlick

Five Day Trend

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