New snow calls for safety in the High Country
Ryan Summerlin April 18, 2012
For those with their backcountry skis still on hand, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center warns to be careful out there amidst the snow that fell over the weekend and into Monday.
The storm left 6-15 inches of snow across the higher elevations, and stronger winds created wind slabs up to 3-feet deep.
“You may find wind slabs ready to avalanche near and above treeline,” officials warn. “Be cautious and evaluate the snowpack at all steep slopes or convex rolls.”
Warm temperatures have consolidated the underlying snowpack, so the primary concern for the remainder of the week or so is recently developed storm and wind slabs.
“The amount of storm snow and developing wind slabs in your local area will dictate the avalanche hazard,” the statewide report read.
Triggered and natural avalanches have occurred on northeast- and east-facing slopes, but any slope near and above treeline could have drifted snow.
“The underlying snow surface is relatively rough and storm snow started wet, so the bond between old and new snow is likely good,” the statewide avalanche discussion read. “As temperatures cooled with the storm, the snow became drier and less dense, which is not a bad structure from an avalanche perspective. You should dig into the new snow to determine the structure and test the bond within and at the bottom of the new snow.”
The report also warned that an avalanche triggered in these conditions could run “fast and far.” Cliffs, trees and previously bare, rocky ground are all risks of getting caught in a “rough ride” of an avalanche in the storm snow.
Weather has returned to being sunny and warm, with temperatures continuing to rise. Disturbances resulting in precipitation are few and far between, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, with high pressure and warmer temperatures arriving for the weekend.
As temperatures rise, wet slides become more of a concern.