|HighlightsAvalanche season has begun. On Monday, two backcountry tourers were caught and partially buried in an avalanche west of Crested Butte. An observer in the northern San Juan Mountains saw several natural avalanches, and notes that “..despite the shallow snow cover overall, it is indeed avalanche season.” These avalanches all ran on northerly facing slopes above treeline. These are the slopes that have sufficient snow cover to attract riders. They are also the slopes where recreators can trigger avalanches. These avalanches are most dangerous on slopes with terrain traps, such as timber, gullies, over cliffs, or terrain features that make it difficult for a rider to escape off the side.We will update the Statewide Avalanche Conditions on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons. We will resume Zone forecasts in mid- or late November as conditions warrant. Our Zone Weather Forecasts are updated by 6:00 AM and 1:00 PM daily.Weather Discussion
A weak high-pressure system will dominate our weather for the next few days. Expect northwesterly winds, partly cloudy skies to come and go, and daytime temperatures to gradually warm Thursday and Friday. Friday night a weak shortwave trough will clip the Northern Mountains. It may dust the northern Front Range and Summit County, but most snow will be over the Front Range foothills and Palmer Divide. High pressure will return for the weekend, in spite of the Benefit Bash, which typically brings a big storm. The first of a series of shortwave troughs should arrive Monday night, but none look strong.
Snowpack and Avalanche Discussion
Avalanches are possible in the mountainous areas of Colorado whenever you find snow on a steep slope. Consider the consequences of being caught in an avalanche before you cross any steep, snow-covered slope. You can look check observations of snow conditions and avalanche reports. We want to hear your reports on backcountry conditions and avalanche observations, so please send us your observations.
You can expect a similar snowpack on all high elevation, north-facing slopes. Near the ground is a melt-freeze crust that formed in early October. The crust has been buried by several snowstorms around Halloween. Observers in the Ruby Range near Crested Butte and Cameron Pass in the northern Front Range both noted extensive layers of graupel. On top are thin slabs of drifted snow that will behave like small Persistent Slab avalanches. In the avalanche west of Crested Butte, the avalanche broke a distance above the tourers. Couloirs and gullies