Cold Full Moon Ushers in Winter
By now, you’ve heard about tonight’s Full “Cold Moon”. If not, one of this lunar orb’s most interesting trivia facts is in the numbers. It will fully rise tonight (12/12) at 12:12 a.m. Ooooh!
December’s full moon will cast its luminary spotlight across a blanket of fresh snow, signaling a brief reprieve before the next storm which is forecast to arrive beginning Thursday and continuing throughout the weekend. And with overnight temperatures hovering in the single digits and day time temperatures barely getting above freezing, there’s no need to tell folks living in Leadville Today why they call it the COLD moon!
Tonight’s celestial event can trace its nickname back to when Native Americans used the full moon to track the calendar, giving this month’s full orb its name to recognize the long, cold winter nights. It’s also the time of year when the moon is above the horizon line the longest, casting a beacon of light to warm us through the longer nights of December. According to the official NASA scientists: “The Moon will be full just after midnight on Thursday morning, Dec.12, 2019, appearing “opposite” the Sun (in Earth-based longitude) at 12:12 AM EST. The Moon will appear full for about three days centered on this time, from Tuesday evening through Friday morning.” So set your clock, stay up late or stay tuned for all the pictures you’ll find on IG tomorrow!
However, if the light of the full moon acts as a beacon of adventure, calling you into the backcountry to take off on your favorite trail for a full lunar run (whether by hoof or horsepower), outdoor enthusiasts should be aware of changing avalanche conditions. For that news, Leadville Today turns to the experts at the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC). In fact, two avalanches have already been reported this week in the Sawatch Range, which includes Leadville and Lake County. One on Weston Pass to the east; the other on Independence Pass, west of Twin Lakes. Here’s the latest from the CAIC experts filed early this morning.
Backcountry Avalanche Forecast
by Ben Pricthett, CAIC. This report was submitted at 7:13 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019:
Dangerous avalanche conditions linger on steep slopes that face a northerly or east direction where there is wind-deposited snow. Recent observations indicate most of these slabs will break near the ground, producing a large avalanche that could bury or injure you. The most significant wind-loading has occurred above treeline in the last couple of days. You’ll find these drifts even on southeast or south-facing slopes with our without old snow below. Look for less dangerous conditions on lower angled terrain, or below treeline in areas where the snowpack is softer all the way through.
Statewide Avalanche Forecast Discussion
by Matt Huber , CAIC. This report was submitted on Wednesday Dec. 11, 2019 at 8:05 a.m.
As the skies cleared yesterday and visibility improved, the reports of natural avalanches began to pour in from around the Central Mountain. The size of avalanches continues to grow larger as the snowpack deepens, with a very large avalanche reported near Marble (D3), and several other D2.5’s elsewhere throughout the region. Northeast and east-facing slopes were the bulls-eye for aspect, although many other aspects came into play as well. Northerly winds continued to load southeast-facing slopes even after the precipitation ended, bringing these high-elevation slopes into the forefront of our thoughts for today. The shallow wind slabs that formed here are stressing the buried persistent weak layers and breaking deeper in the snowpack.
Much discussion ensued this morning among the CAIC forecasters about following the trend to a MODERATE (Level 2 of 5) avalanche danger. Today does not fit neatly into the boxes, and although we expect the natural avalanche cycle to be largely over, most of us are following the travel advice of CONSIDERABlE (Level 3 of 5) avalanche danger, with triggered avalanches likely. Obviously, we erred on the side of caution this morning with travel advice being more heavily weighted
The threat of remotely triggered avalanches remains constant, with new reports coming in almost daily. Approach steep terrain with the assumption that you can trigger an avalanche without being on the slope, and you won’t be surprised when you do.