The danger rating and information provided below is only valid for 2/15/14
St. Valentine delivered a bit more snow Friday, accompanied by light to moderate winds that flared up to strong for several hours Friday evening. Wind slabs in the upper elevations (above 3500′); primarily near leeward ridge lines, peaks, and cross-loaded terrain features; will be the main concern Saturday.
Instabilities are expected to be limited to those near the surface, from new snow received since Thursday. Persistent instabilities deeper within the snowpack are unlikely.
Wind direction has been variable across the Front Range and Eagle River area Chugach Mountains lately, albeit with an easterly tilt (predominantly E to NE). Considering this and the influence of terrain, wind slabs are possible on multiple aspects – but expected to be more of a problem on south and west aspects. Be on the lookout for cornices and faint sastrugi indicating wind direction and leeward slopes. Fatter looking areas of snow and cracking will be other clues.
Even with a bit more snow and and the flare up in wind speed Friday night, areas harboring deeper wind deposits still don’t really hold enough snow to create inherently dangerous wind slab avalanches; the main threat will be due to the terrain consequences and exposure if a small wind slab was to cause you to fall or lose control. Terrain traps combined with isolated areas of deeper snow and anomalous pockets of instability could possibly lead to a burial.
Deeper persistent slabs are an increasingly peripheral concern. However, they can’t be ruled out completely; the setup and structure that makes them possible still exists in areas, but lacks energy. As the snowpack is still thin enough in most areas to dig to the ground relatively quickly, it’s not much work to more thoroughly assess this problem via a snow profile and stability tests if you’re keen to travel on a questionable slope. Such questionable slopes will be upper elevation (above 3500′) with more consistent coverage.
Partly cloudy skies this morning will give way to increasingly cloudy skies and chances for snow showers later in the day. Light to moderate north to east winds and temps in the teens are expected.
Waves of snow showers and more intense wind are expected to continue through the weekend.
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