Changes in snow density within new or recent snow can lead to short-lived storm instabilities.

Credit: Shasta Avalanche Center

Lower density snow (new or fragmented grains) can act as a weak layer if it is buried by denser new or windblown snow. “Top-heavy” or “Upside-down” storm snow is commonly caused by warming temperatures or increased wind speeds as a storm evolves. Sometimes you can feel this type of density change in the snow as you break trail or push a ski pole into the snow. Snowpack tests are often the best way to identify a more subtle density difference.