Snowpack Summary published on March 8, 2021 @ 8:54 am
Issued by Sue Burak - Bridgeport Avalanche Center

bottom line:

Bottom line

After days of clear, dry and warm weather and generally safe avalanche conditions, winter returns today with strong, damaging southwest winds, cold temperatures and periods of snowfall. Generally safe avalanche conditions today will change to dangerous avalanche conditions by tomorrow night and Wednesday. Wind slab avalanches will become a problem over the next three days and avalanche danger will increase each day.  We have not seen new snow since Valentine’s Day! and powder frenzy is increasing along with the avalanche danger. Take today to remember how we carefully selected terrain during the dangerous avalanche conditions at the end of January.

Avalanche Character 1: Normal Caution
Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features. Use normal caution when travelling in the backcountry.

Avalanche conditions are generally safe this morning.  As the storm approaches later today, be on the lookout for small areas of wind drifted snow.

Snowpack Discussion

Avalanche conditions have been generally safe for many days but these benign and generally safe conditions change today in a big way. We need to adjust to a winter mindset- new snowfall will create wind slabs and storm slabs and skiers and riders will be able to trigger small to medium size avalanches. 

Today, watch out for small pockets of fresh wind drifts along north-facing upper elevation ridgelines in the Leavitt Lake, Sonora Pass area and Virginia Lakes region. By this afternoon and evening, snow will begin to form wind drifts. By Wednesday morning, expect over  a foot of new snow and dangerous avalanche conditions.

Today's light snow showers will blow across south facing slopes such as Dunderberg Peak, and Mt Olsen. Leavitt Bowl could see pillows of wind compacted snow below the cliffs. Terrain rolls between Leavitt Lake and Latopie/Koenig Lakes are well known areas where wind deposited snow accumulates and forms wind slabs.

recent observations

Yesterday, snowpack observations in the Leavitt Lake area show how different slopes can be in the same area. A high elevation, south facing slope had 2 feet of snow compared to 5 feet or more on a north facing slope at a similar elevation. Snow surfaces in all areas is a mix  of supportable frozen crusts, firm wind affected snow and soft, recrystallized snow in protected glades.

CURRENT CONDITIONS Weather observations from Sonora Pass
0600 temperature: 23 deg. F.
Max. temperature in the last 24 hours: 40 deg. F.
Average wind direction during the last 24 hours: SSW
Average wind speed during the last 24 hours: 30 mph
Maximum wind gust in the last 24 hours: 63 mph
New snowfall in the last 24 hours: nil inches
Total snow depth: 24 to 48 inches inches
Two-Day Mountain Weather Forecast Produced in partnership with the Reno NWS
For 8000 ft. to 10000 ft.
  Monday Monday Night Tuesday
Weather: Strong, damaging winds clouds and snow Cloudy with snow showers
Temperatures: 20's deg. F. 20's deg. F. 20's deg. F.
Wind direction: SW SW SW
Wind speed: 20-40 20-40 20-30
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 1-3 in. 2-4 in.
For above 10000 ft.
  Monday Monday Night Tuesday
Weather: clouds, cold and windy cloudy, windy, snow cloudy, windy, snow
Temperatures: 20's deg. F. 20's deg. F. 20's deg. F.
Wind direction: SW SW SW
Wind speed: 30-50 30-45 25-45
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 1-2 in. 3-5 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.