Snowpack Summary published on February 27, 2021 @ 8:29 am
Issued by Jason Mozol - Bridgeport Avalanche Center

bottom line:

Strong winds and cooler temperatures will keep wet avalanche problems at bay today, but isolated reactive small new wind slabs near and above tree line are possible. Warmer temperatures and calmer winds tomorrow will lead to isolated loose wet instabilities on steep southerly slopes. Also be aware of variable hard and slick snow conditions with long sliding falls possible in steep terrain. Remember to use safe travel practices and carefully evaluate snow and terrain to identify isolated instabilities.

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.

A dry cold front moved through last night bringing cooler temperatures and strong to extreme west winds shifting to NW today. Snow blowing off the high peaks was visible from town yesterday. There is relatively little snow available for transport, so fresh wind slabs should remain small. However, in isolated areas near and above tree line, on N-E-S aspects, you could find reactive small new wind slabs. Wind loaded areas will require evaluation today. Be particularly aware in couloirs and extreme terrain. Look out for smooth, rounded snow, and any signs of instability like cracking or collapsing.

Avalanche Character 2: Loose Wet
Loose Wet avalanches occur when water is running through the snowpack, and release at or below the trigger point. Avoid very steep slopes and terrain traps such as cliffs, gullies, or tree wells. Exit avalanche terrain when you see pinwheels, roller balls, a slushy surface, or during rain-on-snow events.

The strong refreeze, winds, and cooler temperatures will prevent significant solar warming today. Expect slick conditions. Tomorrow, winds will calm down and temperatures will be slightly warmer allowing the sun to heat up southerly slopes. On isolated steep south aspects, especially around heat sources like rocks, you could trigger small loose wet avalanches. Larger loose wet avalanches are unlikely. Look out for signs of instability like unsupportable wet snow and rollerballs, and be prepared to change aspects accordingly.

Snowpack Discussion

Wind slabs and loose wet avalanches should remain relatively small over the next 48 hours, but remember that small avalanches are not always benign. They can still sweep you off your feet and lead to nasty consequences, especially in extreme terrain. Continue to carefully evaluate the snow around you and be on the lookout for isolated instabilities. Safe travel practices, like traveling one at a time in avalanche terrain, can reduce risks. 

Avalanche hazards may be limited to small wind slabs and small loose wet avalanches, but they are not the only hazards in the backcountry. Variable crusty snow and hard/slick conditions are currently widespread. Long sliding falls and challenging travel conditions are quite possible. Continue to use safe travel practices to reduce risks. Choose terrain wisely to fit with the conditions, and be prepared to move to safer terrain.

CURRENT CONDITIONS Weather observations from Sonora Pass
0600 temperature: 20 deg. F.
Max. temperature in the last 24 hours: 35 deg. F.
Average wind direction during the last 24 hours: W
Average wind speed during the last 24 hours: 25-50 mph
Maximum wind gust in the last 24 hours: 78 mph
New snowfall in the last 24 hours: 0 inches
Total snow depth: 90 inches

Even with sunny skies it will feel brisk out there today with cooler temperatures and strong NW winds forecasted. Tomorrow, temperatures will warm a few degrees and the winds will calm down drastically by the afternoon. Conditions should feel much more pleasant. Dry conditions are forecasted for much of the upcoming week.

Two-Day Mountain Weather Forecast Produced in partnership with the Reno NWS
For 8000 ft. to 10000 ft.
  Saturday Saturday Night Sunday
Weather: Sunny. Clear. Sunny.
Temperatures: 25 to 33 deg. F. 2 to 7 deg. F. 31 to 37 deg. F.
Wind direction: Northwest North Northeast
Wind speed: 15 to 20 mph with gusts to 40 mph. 15 to 20 mph in the evening becoming light. Gusts up to 40 mph. Light winds.
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0 in. 0 in.
For above 10000 ft.
  Saturday Saturday Night Sunday
Weather: Sunny. Clear. Sunny.
Temperatures: 21 to 27 deg. F. -1 to 4 deg. F. 26 to 32 deg. F.
Wind direction: Northwest North Northeast
Wind speed: 15 to 30 mph with gusts to 50 mph. 20 to 35 mph with gusts to 55 mph. 15 to 20 mph with gusts to 40 mph in the morning becoming light.
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0 in. 0 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.