Very heavy snow combined with gale force winds from the SW will rapidly load NW-N-NE facing slopes, leading to likely natural and human triggered avalanches in the BWRA. Large, destructive, and widespread avalanches will likely run further down slope than expected. It is advised to remain off and away from all wind loaded slopes for a few days and give these wind slabs a chance to stabilize.
Up to 4' of new snow is expected Saturday night through Monday morning in the BWRA. This will place a huge amount of additional weight on an already stressed snowpack, leading to certain human triggered and natural avalanches. There is a buried rain crust which will be 5-7' below the surface by Monday and was shown to be fragile in stability tests. Shallower avalanches failing in the new storm snow could have the potential to step down to this rain crust and trigger a much larger and destructive avalanche. Avoiding all avalanche terrain, especially the bottom of large avalanche paths, will be key to staying safe through Monday.
We rode up Hwy 108 and part way up Leavitt Lake Road on Thursday and found 2' of new snow sitting on top of a rain crust which formed at the beginning of the storm on Wednesday. We also observed a few storm slab avalanches on small convex slopes.
Since Wednesday, 35" of snow was measured at the Sonora Pass SNOTEL station and 47" was measured at the Leavitt Lake SNOTEL station. Light snow is expected today ahead of a very strong and potent storm coming in tonight lasting through Monday morning. An additional 50" of snow is forecasted to fall in the higher elevations in the BWRA. Storm totals since Wednesday could top out around 100" by Monday in parts of the BWRA! This may be the last storm for a while as models are showing a persistent area of high pressure building in over the West coast next week, lasting at least through the first week of February.
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.
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