Early Spring Snow Brings Skiers, Avalanche Experts to Sierra

SODA SPRINGS -- On the third day of spring, snowboarders braved wet and heavy snowfall in the high Sierra.

"Probably make it two runs, not fall, not hurt ourselves, and just have fun," Stephen Duong, visiting from San Jose, told FOX40.

As people strapped on their skis in the Boreal parking lot, forecasters were doing the same thing just down the road, getting ready to head into the backcountry and test the terrain for avalanche conditions.

"Anytime we get significant new snow load like this, that's a good clue that the snow is going to accumulate faster than the snowpack can adjust," forecaster Andy Anderson said.

Anderson braved the backcountry to look for spots prone to avalanches.

"We dig a lot of holes in the snow," he said. "If you have a lighter layer of, say, colder snow that was left over from our previous storms, that could serve as our weak layer underneath the heavy snow that's falling today, that will serve as out slab layer. Then all it takes is some sort of trigger."

Anderson says that trigger could be anything from strong winds to backcountry skiers -- especially on days like Thursday.

"Recent snow loading, rain on snow, wind loading. All those things are good clues that the snowpack should be unstable and we're seeing all of them right now," he said.

But the slushy snow isn't stopping some from making memories at Sierra ski resorts.

"Teddy here, my son, he is almost 6, and he has never been to the snow before. So this is his first time," Tim Walsh, visiting from Menlow Park, said. "He is very excited. And we're going to try the tubing run here."

FOX40 can confirm that Teddy was, indeed, very excited.