Hurricane force winds are expected in the upper elevations of the BWRA throughout the week, with the strongest period of winds being Tuesday and Tuesday night, where wind gusts at the crest could reach nearly 165 mph! This will rapidly load all leeward slopes in exposed areas, including NW-N-NE-E-SE aspects. Most wind loaded bowls and gullies will likely avalanche naturally over the next couple of days. Due to the strength of the winds, wind slabs may also be present near and below treeline in unexpected places.
Above 9300', we are expecting 3-4' of new heavy snow through Friday night. Rising snow levels will produce an upside down snowpack and cause storm snow instabilities. Look out for cracking, collapsing, and whoompfing and remain off and away from all slopes steeper than 35 degrees during the week.
Snow levels Tuesday afternoon through Thursday will rise to about 9300' in the BWRA, meaning we will see heavy rain on snow in lower elevations. We expect snow to begin transitioning over to rain late Tuesday morning with 1.5-2" of rain expected at these elevations through Thursday, with the heaviest precipitation being Tuesday and Tuesday night. This will likely lead to the potential of large wet slab avalanches on all lower elevation aspects. These avalanches are unpredictable and can run much further than expected, similar to the large wet slab avalanche that nearly buried lower Leavitt Lake Road in early January. It is best to avoid all large avalanche paths that are below 9300' and travel quickly and one at a time if you must move through these zones.
The snowpack will receive a massive load over the course of the week, with numerous avalanche problems present in the BWRA including wind slabs, heavy upside-down new snow, and wet slabs due to rain on snow. Luckily, due to our deep and relatively warm snowpack, buried persistent weak layers are not present in our snowpack so these instabilities will subside rather quickly once the storm tracks pushes out of our area this weekend and next week. Until then, avalanche conditions will be very dangerous in the BWRA and it is recommended to remain off and away from any avalanche terrain.
Over the weekend, numerous natural and human triggered wind slab avalanches were observed in the BWRA, including a rider who unintentionally triggered a cornice collapse by walking too close to the edge. Yesterday, a wet slab avalanche was observed on the slope just above the People's Gate due to heavy rain on snow.
Another round of strong atmospheric river events will impact our area this week. Since Sunday night, the BWRA has already received 1.5-2' of new snow. This afternoon, a strong storm system will impact out area with rain levels rising to about 9300', or half way between the Leavitt Lake Road junction and Leavitt Lake with heavy precipitation falling through early Wednesday morning. We will see a short break during the day on Wednesday with only light rain/snow showers before the next system brings another quick round of heavy precipitation Wednesday night. The final system will approach our area Thursday night bringing more precipitation but lowering snow levels.
Below 9300': ~24" snow and ~2" rain (Tuesday-Friday). 5-day Storm Total (Sunday-Friday): ~45" snow / ~5" SWE (rain and snow)
Above 9300': ~45" snow (Tuesday-Friday). 5-day Storm Total (Sunday-Friday): ~70" snow / ~9" SWE (all snow)
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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