Snow sports enthusiasts will be very thankful for the Thanksgiving storm cycle which has transformed the Sierra very rapidly from a late autumn desiccated landscape back into winter with a substantial blanket of snow. It’s great to be back writing about snow after a 4 month hiatus where we skied deep into July on last season’s hefty snowpack.
Cold temperatures brought snow levels down to 2000ft and deposited upwards of 4’ of settled snow in the Mammoth Area at the 9000ft elevation. Observations have been limited in the alpine with the most avalanche activity being recorded at the ski area on Friday 11/29 where there were some significant natural and explosive triggered wind slab avalanches on northerly aspects around the 9-10000ft elevation. Wind slabs ranged from 12” to 4ft in depth. With continued strong SW winds and substantial amount of new snowfall on all aspects, be particularly aware of areas conducive to capturing wind transported snow. Northerly aspects will be of main concern with SW winds slated to continue for the forecast area. With the season starting off with a bang, it’s a good time to hone and re-visit the skills of companion rescue and proper travel protocols in avalanche terrain. Be sure to double check that all your equipment is in proper working order and to refine and perk up those avalanche hunter observations. Be on the lookout for red flags such as recent avalanche activity, shooting cracks, whoompfing of the snowpack, and fat pillowed snow features.
If you’re getting out and about, please post any pertinent avalanche or snow condition observations to the ESAC observation page.