THIS SNOWPACK SUMMARY EXPIRED ON January 1, 2017 @ 10:24 pm
Snowpack Summary published on December 30, 2016 @ 10:24 am
Issued by Kyle Van Peursem - Bridgeport Avalanche Center

bottom line:

The snowpack in the BWRA is generally stable, though isolated pockets of instability may exist on upper elevation wind loaded slopes

Avalanche Character 1: Wind Slab
Wind Slab avalanches release naturally during wind events and can be triggered for up to a week after a wind event. They form in lee and cross-loaded terrain features. Avoid them by sticking to wind sheltered or wind scoured areas.

It has been nearly a week since the last storm, where strong southerly winds and over a foot of new snow combined for form pockets of wind slabs on exposed northerly upper elevation slopes. These slabs have likely stabilized over the past week but there is still the chance of pulling out an isolated pocket on slopes greater than 35 degrees, which still have the potential to bury/injure a person.

Avalanche Character 2: Normal Caution
Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features. Use normal caution when travelling in the backcountry.

Watch for variable snow surface conditions on E through SW facing slopes which have been impacted by warm temperatures and direct solar radiation.

Snowpack Discussion

The snowpack in the BWRA has had lots of time to stabilize since the last storm 1 week ago. There have been no recent signs of activity with the exception of wet loose on exposed southerly slopes. Isolated pockets of wind slabs may still be reactive under the weight of a rider so it is recommended to avoid wind loaded slopes steeper than 35 degrees, typically found on upper elevation north facing slopes near exposed ridgelines. Though things will be generally safe this weekend, this will rapidly change with the onset of the next storm expected early next week. The snow surface right now is a hodgepodge of crusts (on southerly slopes) and weak faceted and surface hoar layers (on shady northerly slopes). Large amounts of new snow will not bond well to these surfaces and will create dangerous avalanche conditions in the future. It will be important to monitor the presence of the layers prior to the next storm. Any observations you can provide are extremely valuable!

recent observations

We were up near the PCT crossing on Thursday and observed generally safe avalanche conditions with no recent signs of activity, with the exception of some loose wet sluffs on southerly facing slopes. The warm temperatures and sunny conditions have greatly impacted E through SW facing slopes with a melt-freeze cycle occurring forming sun and melt-freeze crusts on these slopes. Shady northerly slopes above 9000' have not been effected by the warm weather and contained powdery snow and generally good riding conditions.


Clouds will increase and temperatures will cool as a weak system approaches from the north on Saturday. There is a chance of light snow with this system but accumulations will be less than 2", if any at all. Winds will increase from the west with gusts up to 35 mph on exposed ridgelines in upper elevations. A stronger system drops down from the north by Sunday night bringing increasing chances of significant snowfall through Wednesday morning and much colder temperatures.

Two-Day Mountain Weather Forecast Produced in partnership with the Reno NWS
For 8000 ft. to 10000 ft.
  Friday Friday Night Saturday
Weather: Partly Cloudy Partly cloudy then becoming mostly cloudy Mostly cloudy with a slight chance of snowfall
Temperatures: 37-43 deg. F. 16-21 deg. F. 29-34 deg. F.
Wind direction: W W NE
Wind speed: Light 10-15 mph with gusts up to 30 mph Light in the morning becoming northeast in the afternoon 10-15 mph with gusts up to 30 mph
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0 in. 1 in.
For above 10000 ft.
  Friday Friday Night Saturday
Weather: Partly cloudy Partly cloudy then becoming mostly cloudy Mostly cloudy with a slight chance of snowfall
Temperatures: 29-37 deg. F. 12-18 deg. F. 23-31 deg. F.
Wind direction: W W SW shifting to the E
Wind speed: 10-15 with gusts up to 25 mph 15-20 with gusts up to 35 mph 10-15 with gusts up to 35 mph
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0 in. 1-2 in.

This snowpack summary applies only to backcountry areas in the Bridgeport Winter Recreation Area. Click here for a map of the area. This snowpack summary describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur. This snowpack summary expires in 48 hours unless otherwise noted. The information in this snowpack summary is provided by the USDA Forest Service who is solely responsible for its content.