THIS SNOWPACK SUMMARY EXPIRED ON January 24, 2021 @ 9:08 am
Snowpack Summary published on January 22, 2021 @ 9:08 am
Issued by Jason Mozol - Bridgeport Avalanche Center

bottom line:

A weak storm is forecasted to impact the area today. It will likely bring 2-4 inches of new snow and increased winds. If we receive the higher end of forecasted totals, small wind slabs will be possible in wind loaded terrain features. Look out for signs of instability like cracking and collapsing. Travel in the mountains remains difficult right now. Widespread thin and firm snow conditions are hazardous. Use good backcountry practices to reduce your risks when traveling in avalanche terrain. 

The BWRA remains closed to motorized recreation due to low snow depths in Sardine Meadows and the Leavitt Lake/108 junction. Numerous spots and longer stretches of Hwy 108 remain bare up to 8,000ft. The BWRA is open to non-motorized use. If you are going to recreate, please be responsible and avoid off-road motorized riding.  Virginia Lakes road remains clear and open. Please park respectfully.

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.

Today's storm is expected to bring gusty winds from the W-SW-S and light snowfall. Wind slab formation will vary depending on how much of the potential 0-6 in. of forecasted snow falls. These slabs are most likely to be small and form in upper elevations on the lee aspects of N-NE-E. Wind slabs may be present in other exposed terrain. If we receive the higher end of the forecasted amounts, look out for signs of instability like cracking and collapsing in wind loaded terrain features.

Snowpack Discussion

Snow coverage continues to be thin to non-existent throughout the forecast area. This week, clear skies persisted but somewhat cooler temperatures returned. The cooler temperatures locked up last week’s wet snow into firm crusts on southerly aspects. Northerly aspects hold a variety of surface textures from breakable crusts to dry faceted snow in protected areas. 


We have been monitoring a weak snowpack that contains a thick layer of large facets at the ground. While we have not seen signs of instability, i.e. cracking, whoompfing or recent avalanches, snowpit tests indicate that this layer could become reactive through snowfall and wind loading from upcoming storms. Although the amount of snow necessary for this layer to become reactive is uncertain it will become more of a concern as larger storms arrive next week. Be on the lookout for whoompfing sounds, shooting cracks and other signs of instability as loading increases. 


Despite incoming snow, firm conditions remain a primary risk and will make self arresting a fall challenging while numerous exposed hazards increase consequences. Use caution; beacon, shovel, probe and appropriate travel practices are a necessity in avalanche terrain.

CURRENT CONDITIONS Weather observations from Sonora Pass
0600 temperature: 23 deg. F.
Max. temperature in the last 24 hours: 39 deg. F.
Average wind direction during the last 24 hours: SW
Average wind speed during the last 24 hours: 10-20 mph
Maximum wind gust in the last 24 hours: 40 mph
New snowfall in the last 24 hours: 0 inches
Total snow depth: 38 inches

The weather pattern becomes more active today through the next week with several storms upcoming. The first, and weakest, storm moves into the region today bringing some light accumulating snow and moderate, gusty winds. The next storm arrives Sunday into Monday with more snow and slightly stronger winds. The most significant storm will impact the region by the middle of next week, bringing ample moisture and potential for heavy snow accumulation.

Two-Day Mountain Weather Forecast Produced in partnership with the Reno NWS
For 8000 ft. to 10000 ft.
  Friday Friday Night Saturday
Weather: Snow showers likely after 10am. Mostly cloudy. A 50 percent chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy. A 40 percent chance of snow showers. Partly sunny.
Temperatures: 28 deg. F. 9 deg. F. 26 deg. F.
Wind direction: SSW WSW N
Wind speed: 29-34mph, gusts up to 50mph 9-13mph, gusts up to 20mph 10 to 18 mph, with gusts up to 29 mph
Expected snowfall: 2-4 in. <1 in. <.5 in.
For above 10000 ft.
  Friday Friday Night Saturday
Weather: Snow after 10am. A 50 percent chance of snow. Mostly cloudy. A 30 percent chance of snow, mainly before 4pm. Partly sunny.
Temperatures: 25 deg. F. 11 deg. F. 23 deg. F.
Wind direction: SW SW N
Wind speed: 15 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 35 mph 5 to 10 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph 10-15 mph
Expected snowfall: 1-3 in. 1-2 in. <.5 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.