Avalanche danger remains considerable across Steamboat zone
December 10, 2013
Steamboat Springs — Brisk winds across the Steamboat and Flat Tops area were expected to create shallow, easterly wind slabs, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, but the real danger in the backcountry remains slabs sitting on surface or deep hoar.
The avalanche danger for the zone is considerable on all aspects near or above the treeline and moderate below.
The snow from the past few days has fallen onto surface hoar, which is a weak layer of frost that can shear or fail when weighted by too much snow.
The center's report for the Steamboat zone states that "observers are reporting some easy failures with compression tests on north aspects."
Deeper in the snowpack, depth hoar and crust and facet combinations sit as much as 4 feet down, according to the center's report.
"Persistent slabs are stacked on top of one another in these areas," the report states. "Avalanches that break into these deeper layers will be larger and more dangerous."
The center warns backcountry adventurers to avoid steep terrain if there are signs of instability, such as recent slides.
There is little new snow in the forecast for Steamboat, and high temperatures should remain in the mid-20s heading into the weekend.