SNOW PACK: Sneaky Snowfall

By on March 6, 2013

I have heard it called Optimist Prime, when it is both sunny and snowing. It is a magical time, as the sun turns every falling flake into a prism casting light. Lately there have been many of these days, when the snow is falling and then suddenly the sun is shining.

Even though the snowfall has been light and the forecast non-encouraging, each day an extra inch here and there softens the slopes. In just under two weeks more than 30 inches of snow fell. This unexpected snowfall improves the skiing and adds new loads to steep slopes. But recently loaded snow is the most sensitive to avalanching, since it has not had a chance to bond to existing surfaces. Due to long periods of dry weather this season, there remains great spatial variability within the snowpack resulting in a variety of surfaces below the new snow.

Almost 200 of the 300 inches of snowfall this season fell in December. Stormy weather could always be just around the corner, but longer days and warming temps can quickly change the snow’s texture. For now, steep, chalky turns and bouncy powder turns can still be found in the surrounding mountains.

About Lisa Van Sciver

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