Only a few days in and so far Spring has been pretty moody. I’m not saying we didn’t appreciate that big dump last week. That 4-6’ of new glop really boosted the snowpack. Sure, things were pretty exciting there during and just after the squall. In some areas it seemed like everything that could slide slid. The new, heavy snow buried some pretty concerning layers of weak facets even deeper and now that things are settling and becoming supportable it would really take a huge trigger to affect them, unless you can find them much closer to the surface. So that’s all pretty sweet.
But then the winds started ripping. That’s cool, we’re used to that around here, but there was really a lot of new snow to blow around. I mean a lot. SW winds that just wouldn’t quit kept moving snow onto northerly slopes. You’re thinking, “Surely they’ll run out of snow to deposit soon!” But no. They kept building wind slabs into last night. And they even got an inch or so of new snow to play with N of McGee Creek yesterday afternoon. I mean, at least most wind slabs tend to become less reactive with time. The biggest ones that were deposited first should be gaining strength. But with all the “Spring” weather, some newer smaller wind slabs will probably build up even today. Isolated showers could add a little fuel to the fire, maybe up to 1” of new snow. That’s not a whole lot compared to last week. But just remember that the wind can deposit snow on leeward slopes at 3-5 times the the rate it can fall from the sky. So while a lot of these newer wind slabs will be small, it’s probably still possible to trigger them where deposition is favored. Spring seems to be chilling out a little bit and the winds will slow down throughout the day. But you’re going to want to evaluate any wind slabs that you find for sensitivity. Shooting cracks and hollow sounding drifts are not good. Thanks to these cold winds coming from the SW, exposed terrain that faces NW-N-NE-E-SE is most likely to be a problem, especially just under ridges and on the sidewalls of gullies. I’d even double check larger openings in the trees.
As this unstable air mass heads east to hassle someone else “Spring” will start to feel a little more, well, spring like. Sun tans and shades may be the thing in the coming days, but expect any big warm-up to come with it’s own set of avalanche problems. Spring, man. Crazy.