Relatively light winds and warm temperatures have helped Thursday’s storm snow bond, settle, and provide much improved snow surfaces across the forecast zone. There have been no recorded or observed avalanches this weekend following the storm which averaged from 6-12” across the range. The deepest wind loaded areas have been found to be cross loaded leeward NE-SE catchment zones at Tree Line. Upper Elevations look to be much more scoured and devoid of much new snow, but there have been limited observations from high elevations and the complex nature of that terrain should always be considered when adventuring up high.
Although the winter season started out well here in regards to good snow fall and snowpack structure, those initial conditions have degraded a bit as we endured a lengthy lull in precipitation in January with violent eroding winds and strong temperature gradients that have weakened residing old snow. The snowpack currently is quite variable throughout the forecast zone with overall thin conditions to the north and south and the deepest overall totals found in the Mammoth area. A variety of crust/facet combos are present within the upper portion of the snowpack and weaker loose snow can be found around most rocky areas and shallow alpine slopes. Most of these shallow exposed alpine areas are composed of loose weaker snow encapsulated by firm wind board and slab from the extreme January winds. This past storm did not provide the weight necessary to cause a widespread natural avalanche cycle; the snowpack was a bit sensitive immediately following the storm Friday morning, but since then has been unreactive. A future big Sierra dump could see the mountains shed themselves of some of the residing structurally poor snowpack.