Avalanche Advisory: Thursday - Mar 5, 2020

THIS AVALANCHE ADVISORY EXPIRED ON March 6, 2020 @ 6:33 am
Avalanche Advisory published on March 5, 2020 @ 6:33 am
Issued by Steve Mace - ESAC

Low avalanche danger exists today at all elevations. While generally safe avalanche conditions exist, it will not be impossible to find Isolated areas of unstable snow today. Wind slabs deposited during last weekend's storm and surface warming resulting from the strong sierra sun and unseasonably warm temperatures today deserve extra consideration.  Continue to practice safe travel techniques and keep an eye out for isolated instabilities.

1. Low

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Above Treeline
Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.

1. Low

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Near Treeline
Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.

1. Low

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Below Treeline
Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
    Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
Avalanche Problem 1: Loose Wet
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Increasing winds today and thickening cloud cover may temper the solar input this afternoon, but this morning promises to bring sunny skies and unseasonable warm temperatures.  Be on the lookout for warming surface snow on solar aspects at all elevations and expect this to occur first on easterly slopes transitioning to southerly and westerly slopes by the afternoon.  While consequential loose wet avalanches are unlikely, they are not out of the realm of possibility today. Wet, sticky snow surface, rollerballs, pinwheels, and increasing boot penetration are all signs of surface warming and may foreshadow larger point release avalanches.

Avalanche Problem 2: Wind Slab
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The last three days of light winds and warm temperatures have led to a healing trend. Triggering a consequential avalanche today will be unlikely but not impossible.  Wind slabs deposited during last weekend's storm will be stubborn and isolated in nature. Variable winds during and immediately after the storm led to erratic loading patterns leaving many typical start zones stripped bare and large deposits in less typical areas. Isolated areas of wind slab may exist on specific terrain features below treeline and further down slopes than you may typically expect to find them.  Exposed leeward catchment zones, convex and unsupported slopes, and cross-loaded gully features near and above treeline deserve elevated caution. Large drifts, recent cornice growth, and uneven snow surfaces are all clues that indicate nearby wind deposits. Do your own localized assessments and be suspect of terrain features that encourage drifting. 

advisory discussion

Last weekend’s storm brought a welcome change to the surface conditions in the range. However, overall coverage remains quite thin, and contiguous panels of snow are few and far between. This is particularly true on solar aspects and at lower elevations. Despite the recent addition of new snow, thin coverage and variable surface conditions remain a significant hazard. Be wary of shallowly buried obstacles like rocks and fallen trees.  Move cautiously through terrain and be ready to encounter a wide variety of surface conditions. Recent observations have indicated cold dry powder snow still exists on some shaded aspects while warm sticky snow and a variety of melt-freeze crusts are becoming more widespread in sun-exposed areas.   

Weather and CURRENT CONDITIONS
weather summary

We can expect to see partly cloudy skies today and increasing southwest winds as a low-pressure system builds off the west coast.  Temperatures will remain unseasonably warm with highs around 50°F at mid-elevations.  

Winds will continue to increase tomorrow ahead of a brief storm this weekend. Precipitation totals for this storm system are not expected to be impressive but we might see some light snow in the high country on Saturday.

Two-Day Mountain Weather Forecast Produced in partnership with the Reno NWS
For 8,000 ft. to 10,000 ft.
Thursday Thursday Night Friday
Weather: Sunny then becoming partly cloudy. Partly cloudy. Mostly cloudy then becoming partly cloudy.
Temperatures: 42 to 52. deg. F. 25 to 31. deg. F. 40 to 50. deg. F.
Mid Slope Winds: Southwest 10 to 20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph. Southwest 10 to 20 mph with gusts to 35 mph. Southwest 15 to 25 mph with gusts to 45 mph.
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0 in. 0 in.
Over 10,000 ft.
Thursday Thursday Night Friday
Weather: Sunny then becoming partly cloudy. Partly cloudy. Partly cloudy.
Temperatures: 30 to 40. deg. F. 22 to 28. deg. F. 29 to 35. deg. F.
Ridge Top Winds: Southwest 15 to 25 mph. Gusts to 40 mph in the afternoon. Southwest 15 to 30 mph with gusts to 45 mph. Southwest 20 to 35 mph with gusts to 55 mph.
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0 in. 0 in.
Disclaimer
This Avalanche Advisory is designed to generally describe avalanche conditions where local variations always occur. This product only applies to backcountry areas located outside established ski area boundaries. The information in this Avalanche Advisory is provided by the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center, who is solely responsible for its content.

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