Fresh snow and colder temperatures will briefly halt the downward melting spiral of the 2014 snowpack. A foot of new snow falling at the end of April presents challenging avalanche conditions- wind slabs on north slopes and wet loose snow avalanches on sun exposed aspects will occur at the same time.
Today, cold temperatures, wind and fresh snow create wind slab avalanche problems on lee ward slopes. Small wind drifts will likely form in localized areas over icy crusts on sun exposed slopes. By this evening, snowfall should pick up and another 8 inches could fall, bring storm totals of a foot or more. Wind loaded slopes could see drifts of over 2 feet. The wind shifts from the southwest to the northwest as the storm passes late tonight, so expect wind loading on east and south east aspects on Saturday.
If the sun comes out at all Saturday, cold new snow will get a blast of strong solar energy that could weaken the snow surface and create loose snow avalanches of varying sizes, depending on the new snow depth, how long the sun is out, the slope aspect and slope steepness.
Sunny weather on Sunday and slopes with spring powder will create an irresistible package, but don’t leave your brain behind. Sunday will be one of those days when everything “feels right”, but make sure you back this with some observations of wind activity, recent avalanche activity and sound decision making. Avalanches never care how you’re feeling-- they’re heartless.