Red Cone and Sherwins - New snow and wind

SNOWPACK OBSERVATION
Red Cone Bowl and Sherwins
Submission Info
Forecaster
Sunday, March 15, 2020 - 3:15pm
Red Flags: 
Recent avalanche activity
Recent loading by new snow, wind, or rain
37° 35' 42.7992" N, 119° 1' 35.3892" W
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 

Toured from the end of Old Mammoth Rd up to Red Cone Bowl, back down and up the south side of the Sherwins and down to Sherwin meadows and back up to car.  The Mammoth Pass snow sensor was claiming nearly 1.5" of water overnight and I wanted to see in person if it seemed like that much snow actually fell in the lakes basin, and see how the winds were having their way.  It definitely didn't seem like 1.5" SWE worth of snow fell up there, as 8-10" seemed to be the highest amounts I found in sheltered higher elevation areas in the afternoon (all-be-it fairly dense snow).  Looking at that sensor this evening, it is claiming 2.4" of SWE, which leads me to believe something is wrong with it(perhaps the winds were loading snow in that sheltered spot in the trees?).  

Most alarming thing I saw all day was a 10-12" crown just below the slightly corniced ridgetop of the Sherwins that was ~30ft wide, and filling back in.  I would say it was probably a natural trigger, as I saw no ski tracks in that area (see video).  D1.5.

Winds were holwing in the morning in exposed low elevations, were fairly calm in the mid-elevation trees, and were moderate over the ridgelines with strong gusts by the afternoon (see attached video ontop of Sherwin Ridge).  It snowed periodically through the day, more in the afternoon, but not much more than a couple inches all day.  I didn't find much wind deposited snow on the west slope of Red Cone, 6-8", and found ~10-12" below the top of the north slope ridgeline where it wasn't stripped away.  Hand pits failed in these deposits with two different shears with moderate force in the 4finger wind deposited snow.  Ski cutting and stomping on these deposited areas produced no results.  Mid-slope had slightly more snow, and skiing slope produced no failures.  Exploring more exposed ridge areas on the approach, we couldn't find wind deposits on either side, but rather thinner amounts of new snow that had been stripped by the wind.  On the way out, booted up the back-side of the Sherwins, which was quite stripped and rocky most of the way.  We cautiously entered the north facing slope along a more wind-stripped rib, and found snow further downslope below the ridgeline to be ~8" of somewhat dense well-bonded snow.  None-the-less, avoided steep convexities on the ski out, and found 4-5" of new snow on crust toward the bottom quarter of the slope above the meadow.  

All in all, new snow is bonding quite well, especailly with the realtively warm temperatures.  Didn't venture into above tree line complex terrain, as that is where I would imagine some more consequential fresh wind slabs would exist.  Today's estimated danger rating for the areas travelled in reality turned out to be more on the Moderate side at tree line and below, with considerable likely in places at tree line and up higher .... definitely not HIGH.  The storm's approach to the eastern sierra stalled today, but we will see what tomorrow afternoon brings!                   

Snowpit videos (tests, etc): 
Weather Observations
Blowing Snow: 
Yes
Cloud Cover: 
100% of the sky covered by clouds
Wind Speed: 
Strong
Precipitation: 
Snow
Wind Direction: 
Southwest
Accumulation rate: 
Less than 1 in. per hour
More detailed information about the weather: 

The winds overall seemed to be stripping snow more than depositing today.

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