The springtime pattern continues with brief shortwave storms passing through the area with light snowfalls and gusty winds followed by warm-ups and corn snow. As a result, avalanche concerns have revolved around sensitive Wind Slabs with each new snowfall and Loose Wet avalanches as the storm systems move out of the region and temperatures rebound between near and above normal. One to four inches of new snow fell Thursday/Friday accompanied by strong gusty winds (which began out of the SW and then shifted out of the N) creating isolated small Wind Slabs on all aspects where the snow deposited in the mid to upper elevations. As of Saturday, the recently formed Wind Slabs have had time to gain some strength with only very isolated small Wind Slab activity anticipated Sunday in the mid to upper elevations. The bigger concern is for small Loose Wet activity on solar aspects as the snow thaws. Temperatures lows Saturday night were mild and are forecast to climb into the mid 30s and 40s today (Sunday) alllowing the snow to thaw more quickly. Rocky outcrops and trees can trap the heat and reflect in back down onto the snow, further elevating the hazard of loose wet avalanches.
Lower elevations – the snowpack is disappearing quickly below ~7500 feet, primarily confined to sheltered northerly aspects or shaded slopes, terrain features that promote crossloading, or where earlier avalanches spilled into low elevation terrain. The spring storms have deposited limited amounts of snow down low, which quickly melts as the clear skies return. The snowpack vacillates between weak melt/freeze crust at the surface to fully isothermal.
Caution – Spring Hazards: Avoid riding slopes under cornices (they can fail unexpectedly) and give cornices a wide berth while traveling along ridgelines (can fail much further back than expected). Spring snow can be very firm prior to softening and a slip or fall can result in a slide-for life, even on relatively benign slopes. Evaluate snow, terrain, and runouts carefully. Crampons, ice axe, or whippet maybe required for safe travel, especially prior to the snow softening. Creeks continue to open up with snow bridges beginning to sag and fail.