Avalanche Advisory: Tuesday - Mar 3, 2020

THIS AVALANCHE ADVISORY EXPIRED ON March 4, 2020 @ 6:28 am
Avalanche Advisory published on March 3, 2020 @ 6:28 am
Issued by Steve Mace - ESAC

MODERATE avalanche danger exists at mid and upper elevations today, and LOW avalanche danger resides at lower elevations. Wind slabs will be the primary concern on all aspects near and above treeline. Substantial surface warming is also likely today on solar aspects and may result in sizable Loose wet avalanches.  Evaluate snow and terrain carefully if you head into the backcountry today and avoid features of concern.

2. Moderate

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Above Treeline
Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.

2. Moderate

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Near Treeline
Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.

1. Low

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Below Treeline
Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
    Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
Avalanche Problem 1: Wind Slab
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After two days of very strong winds blowing from all directions, we can expect wind speeds to drop drastically today with ridgetop gusts around 15 mph. This will limit the possibility of fresh wind slab development. However, lingering wind slabs on all aspects remain a hazard. While natural activity will be unlikely, wind slabs deposited over the last two days may still be reactive to human triggers. Exposed leeward catchment zones, cross-loaded depressions, and gully features near and above treeline deserve elevated caution. It is also essential to keep in mind that variable winds have led to erratic loading patterns. 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.  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. 

Avalanche Problem 2: Loose Wet
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Sunny skies and warm daytime temperatures are expected today and may lead to substantial surface warming on solar aspects at mid and lower elevations.  Sizable loose wet avalanches will be possible today.  Expect loose wet hazard to spike first on easterly slopes transitioning to southerly and westerly slopes by the afternoon.  Wet, sticky snow surface, rollerballs, and pinwheels are all signs of surface warming and may foreshadow larger point release avalanches.  Be aware of hazards that may exist above you and be particularly cautious around terrain features that increase the consequences of an avalanche such as cliff bands, creek beds, or gully features. 

advisory discussion

A fresh blanket of new snow has brought a welcome change to the range.  While surface conditions have largely improved, many hazards remain. A variety of hard, slick snow surfaces before this most recent storm will make it hard for the new snow to bond with the old. Don’t be afraid to dig in to investigate how the old snow is adjusting to the new load. Current avalanche concerns are limited to the surface snow; however, it's important to remember that much of the lower snowpack is comprised of old crusts layers and weak faceted snow. It remains to be seen if this poor structure will become problematic in the future.  In addition to elevated avalanche conditions today, it is prudent to remember that we are still dealing with a thin snowpack. While the promise of fresh snow and beautiful weather is enticing, our first significant snowfall in almost two months is actively hiding many obstacles just below the surface.   Remember that before this storm, contiguous panels of slidable snow were fleeting, particularly on solar aspects and at lower elevations. Be on the lookout for shallowly buried rocks and trees and move cautiously through the terrain. 

Weather and CURRENT CONDITIONS
weather summary

After two days of frigid temperatures and strong winds, we will see a return to more spring-like conditions today.  Clear skies and daytime highs in the mid 40°f are expected at mid-elevations. We can also expect light winds out of the north with ridgetop gusts around 15 MPH this morning and dropping throughout the day.

High pressure will remain for the rest of the week bringing dry conditions and warm temperatures. We may see another round of unsettled weather this weekend as a weak low-pressure system moves through the area. 

Two-Day Mountain Weather Forecast Produced in partnership with the Reno NWS
For 8,000 ft. to 10,000 ft.
Tuesday Tuesday Night Wednesday
Weather: Sunny. Clear. Sunny.
Temperatures: 39 to 47. deg. F. 23 to 28. deg. F. 44 to 54. deg. F.
Mid Slope Winds: Light winds. Light winds. Light winds.
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0 in. 0 in.
Over 10,000 ft.
Tuesday Tuesday Night Wednesday
Weather: Sunny. Clear. Sunny.
Temperatures: 31 to 39. deg. F. 19 to 24. deg. F. 35 to 43. deg. F.
Ridge Top Winds: North around 15 mph in the morning becoming light. Light winds. West around 15 mph in the morning becoming light.
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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