With 100% chances of snow tonight the avalanche possibility exist across our area into the next few days.
Last Friday’s quick-hitting storm system came in with a punch. The Northern Mountains picked up eight to fourteen inches of new snow, while some portions of the Central Mountains saw more than twenty inches. Snow accumulations were less in the Southern Mountains, where two to eight inches fell. Vigorous southwest winds accompanied the storm, efficiently drifting the new snow into sensitive surface slabs. This rapid new load upon our weak, early-season snowpack is a dangerous combination.
Reports of recent avalanches in the backcountry continue to filter into the CAIC, including human triggered, remote triggered, and natural avalanches. There was a close call on Saturday near Aspen, involving a remote-triggered avalanche and partial burial of a snowboarder. Each avalanche report varies in specific details, but they all share many of the same characteristics.
Since October, most reported avalanches in the backcountry occurred on northwest through northeast to east-facing slopes near and above treeline. In the Northern and Central Mountains, the snowpack on these aspects may be two to four feet deep. Numerous recent reports of collapsing, shooting cracks, and remote-triggered avalanches suggest the presence of dangerous persistent weak layers. With poor snowpack structure observed statewide, including a CAIC Forecaster report Saturday near Wolf Creek Pass, the recent uptick in avalanche activity is not overly surprising. The Southern Mountains may lag slightly behind, but the Colorado backcountry as a whole is starting to form a concerning continuum.