A layer of near-surface facets exists statewide, buried 1 to 3 feet deep in the snowpack. Last weekendâ€™s storm snow was very reactive in neighboring zones over the past 3-4 days. In the Front Range, this weak layer likely exists on many slopes, but an appreciable surface slab is still missing in some areas. The northern portions of the Front Range zone near Rocky Mountain National Park and CP saw significantly more snow with our last cycle. In these areas, cohesive surface slabs up to 2 feet deep sit above the weak layer in question. We received a concerning report of a skier-triggered avalanche near CP on Thursday. The skier was fully buried, but able to self-extricate from the debris and avoid injury. The avalanche released on a low-angle, northeast facing slope near treeline. It also released well above the skier, making escape impossible. These are telltale characteristics of dangerous Persistent Slab avalanches. Before committing to any slope steeper than about 30 degrees today, you need to investigate the presence and sensitivity of the slab/weak layer combination. This structure is most common on north and east-facing slopes, near and above treeline.
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