Fall Travel Advisory 2015

Updated 9 p.m. on November 18, 2015 by Zach Guy

Weather

We are stuck on the southern edge of moist northwest flow through Friday.  This will continue to bring unsettled weather with snow flurries but no significant accumulations.  Winds should ease up into the teens and remain blowing out of the northwest.  Expect partly cloudy skies, with clouds getting hung up over the peaks, especially along the Ruby Range and Paradise Divide.  The pattern changes on Saturday as the moisture lifts further north and we see drier conditions.

Snowpack

The last few days have brought more blow than snow, as gusty north to northwest winds have been steadily drifting this week’s snowfall around.  Our Elkton station actually lost half of its total snow depth to scouring, and we received similar reports from the Kebler Pass area.  This snow isn’t just disappearing: it is drifting to leeward features that catch snow, and developing dense wind slabs.  You are most likely to find wind slabs on slopes facing east through south through southwest at higher elevations, but they are also forming in cross-loaded gullies and behind features that act like wind fences.  In most cases, these wind slabs will begin to heal over the next few days as winds start to tame down and layers start to bond.

The persistent slab problem continues to threaten travelers on high elevation shaded aspects.  Recent winds have complicated the problem.  Many of the slopes harboring the most widespread facet layers have been facing into the wind the last few days.  In some cases, slabs have been eroded or unweighted with wind scouring.  In other cases, cross-loading has drifted into thick large slabs, stressing these basal or mid-pack persistent weak layers.

Travel Advice

Bring a careful eye for wind loading patterns with you into your travels.  Look for pillowy, cakey, or drum-sounding snow to clue you into fresh wind deposits.  Whoomphing, cracking, and/or collapsing are sure signs you have unstable conditions under foot or sled.   Retreat to lower angled slopes, wind scoured slopes, or lower elevations when in doubt.

The CBAC will continue to update our observations and our facebook page with the most current conditions.  Look for another travel advisory issued on Thursday morning.  We will begin publishing daily advisories on November 21st. The CAIC began daily forecasts for the Gunnison Zone this week.