Today, new snow will receive the brunt of strong late March sun. Rapid warming of the new snow will destabilize the surface snow quickly. People may be able to trigger shallow wet loose sluffs on steep slopes.
The unsettled cool weather that brought 3 to 4 inches of new snow and graupel is coming to an end. Yesterday in the Red Cone Bowl area, soft new snow warmed during the day under cloudy skies, calm winds and mild temperatures right around 40 F. Wind slabs had formed in the bowl and along the ridgelines and were sitting on top of irregular patterns of frozen wet snow. If additional snowfall occurred last night, it could be possible to trigger a small wind slab in steep terrain today.
Thin wind slabs were interspersed with areas of old frozen wet snow surfaces. Extended column tests done at treeline above Horseshoe Lake and above treeline propagated and produced sudden planar results with the column failing on ball bearing facets below the February rain layer. Watch out for buried weak faceted snow in places where the snowpack is thin- below cliff bands, in rocky areas and all places where the snow thins out.
New snow will get the first shot of late March solar radiation today and wet snow sluffs could be triggered on steep slopes. Natural wet loose snow slides will be possible ove the next few days in alpine terrain where new snow accumulations of 4 to 6" from Monday and Tuesday nights snowfall.
Yesterday's observations in the Red Cone Bowl area showed 3 to 4 inches of new snow and graupel had accumulated in sheltered locations in the treed slopes above Horseshoe Lake. On the more wind exposed slopes in the main bowl, accumulations of up to 6 inches were found in protected areas on the back side of terrain features or human created terrain features. Areas of icy frozen melt freeze crusts rounded out the variable surface conditions.
After 10 days of generally stable conditions shown by no results from compression and extended column tests, today's results were surprising. Columns popped off of a slick crust buried under the February rain/dense snow layer about with rounding facets about 20 inches down. Similar results were common in early March but recently, tests have not produced any failures.
High elevation snow in the bowl did not have any signs of surface melt water moving down through the pack as is commonly seen in mid elevations.
|0600 temperature:||27 deg. F.|
|Max. temperature in the last 24 hours:||43 deg. F.|
|Average wind direction during the last 24 hours:||WNW to NE|
|Average wind speed during the last 24 hours:||15-20 mph|
|Maximum wind gust in the last 24 hours:||35 mph|
|New snowfall in the last 24 hours:||3 inches|
|Total snow depth:||7 inches|
Clearing skies, warming temperatures and light easterly winds are forecasted for today and herald the beginning of yet another warming trend through Friday. Breezy northeast winds could gust up to 25 mph at mid and high elevations.
The weekend could be wet with a few snow showers possible. Long range forecasts call for cooler temperatures and a wet April and May.
This snowpack summary applies only to backcountry areas outside established ski area boundaries. This snowpack summary only describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur. This snowpack summary expires 24 hours after the posted time unless otherwise noted. The information in this snowpack summary is provided by the USDA Forest Service who is solely responsible for its content.