Loose Wet – temperatures peaked in the low 30’s yesterday at a few sites but generally remained a bit cooler than anticipated, which kept the snow temperatures a bit colder than predicted and suppressed potential Loose Wet activity. Today’s temperatures are forecasted to climb into the upper 30’s to mid 40’s today below 10000’. If the forecast holds true, this will be the first real significant warming since the recent series of storms passed through the region. Strong winds in the Alpine will help cool the surface snow from treeline and above, generally limiting the potential for Loose Wet to treeline (~9000’ to ~10,500’) and below. Today, a few small natural avalanches are possible on solar aspects (W-SW-S-SE) and becoming increasingly likely tomorrow (3/28) as temperatures climb into the mid to upper 40’s.
The recent series of storms were accompanied by strong SW winds forming widespread lingering Wind Slabs on NW-N-NE-E-SE aspects. These Wind Slabs have generally had enough time to strengthen and bond to the underlying snow and as a result, less reactive but a potential lingering concern in steep complex terrain. Strong Northerly winds are forecasted through Wednesday AM above 10,000’, with moderate winds below. Above ~10000’ on open exposed terrain, I anticipate small shallow Wind Slabs forming in favored locations (leeward slopes, under cornices, near rock outcrops, etc.), especially areas with large windward fetches. Tender Wind Slabs are possible on W-S-E aspects, near and above treeline (~10000’ and above). I don’t expect this to be a widespread problem. More of a concern in favored localized areas.
The recent spat of storms brought 4 to 6’ of snow and has helped turn the corner on a rather lean season. The series of storms began to roll into the region in early March and continued through 3/22 with the last storm producing the biggest avalanche cycle of the season with impressive debris fields in many of the runouts throughout the range. The heavy snow accumulations have buried the persistent weak layers deep in the snowpack reducing the potential for triggered release, except possibly in isolated areas near Bishop or north of June where it could be closer to the surface. Prior to the recent series of storms, the facet layers were showing signs of sintering and rounding, with some shallow areas becoming wet and refreezing, becoming stronger in the process with stability tests trending stronger.