Fri, May 27, 2022 at 3:32pmIssued by: Jason Konigsberg
In the last week, the Sangre De Cristo range received 1 to 4 feet of new snow near and above treeline. Here, and on upper elevation northerly slopes elsewhere in the Southern Mountains, you will find Loose Wet avalanche conditions developing by late in the morning. Cornices still deserve attention since they can collapse unexpectedly. Travel early for the safest snow conditions. Expect mushy, unsupportive snow conditions by the afternoon.
Saturday is another windy and warm day with temperatures near treeline reaching the mid to upper fifties. Clouds increase in the afternoon as our high pressure ridge breaks down. There is a slight chance of afternoon thunderstorms but most storms will be dry with just some gusty outflow winds.
The leading edge of a low-pressure trough moves over Colorado on Sunday resulting in extensive cloud cover, cooler temperatures, and continued windy conditions from the southwest. As the center of this system churns to our north, we will see periodic snow showers, mainly across the Northern Mountains. Snow will spread over more areas later on Sunday as cold front moves through. It looks like a good freeze is in store for Sunday night. The weather pattern is generally cool and unsettled through about Wednesday.
Snowpack and Avalanche Discussion
The Southern mountains have a major east-west condition split currently. In the La Plata, Northern and Southern San Juan Mountains, high- elevation northerly slopes are the only slopes holding significant continuous snow. The same is true in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, but the significant difference is in recent storm totals. The Sangre de Cristo’s picked up some recent snow down to around 10,000 feet and, in some areas, one to four feet of accumulation. Here, you will want to be careful where you find more than eight inches of new or wind-drifted snow. This snow may be loose and sluff at your feet or crack and act like a slab. Avoid smooth rounded pillows of snow and be aware of snow sluffing around you or from above. A small sluff in extreme mountaineering or riding terrain could take you for a nasty ride. When temperatures warm, expect loose snow sluffs from steep terrain.
Normal caution for spring conditions should help reduce your hazard for the rest of the Southern Mountains. Start and end your day early. An overnight freeze and cooler air should help delay the onset of wet avalanche problems. Leaving the trailhead early with a firm crust underfoot should mean you have some time before conditions deteriorate. Once the crust starts to lose strength, and you are punching into the snow below, it is time to head to lower angle slopes or the trailhead.
Don't forget about cornices. They are thick, and once the snowpack wets at their base, they take more time to freeze and stabilize. Continue to give cornices a wide berth.