It’s great skill to know the positives and negatives of new snow fall as you look to expand your off piste skill set. You might be chomping at the bit to hit those fresh slopes, but there could be a number of hazards just waiting to catch you out. So lets look at the factors beyond just the human element that can have an effect on the level of potential avalanche risk.
How do you tell the amount of snow that has fallen? You can check your local avalanche report as well as stepping outdoors and seeing how much snow is on features like fences and cars etc, or when you hit the slopes seeing how much snow has fallen just off the piste.
Temperature is one of the key factors that comes into play. In general on a ski tour we’ll be heading out early and aiming for most of the hard work to be done prior to lunch. The sun heating up the snow pack even on what would be a typically cold day still has an impact on safety.
The warmer the snow pack the more likely it is to slide as the water from the melting snow lubricates layers within the snowpack and soaks into the snow. That's why that last run of the day off piste excursion on that untracked south facing slope may not be such a great idea.
Also temperatures over long periods of time can create stable or unstable layers with the snow pack. Most commonly we look at the temperature gradient of the snow, i.e the air vs ground temperature. The stronger the gradient, i.e the bigger the difference (more than 1 degree per 10cm of snow pack) towards cold air temperature vs the ground that is zero degrees then there is more chance of troublesome faceted crystals forming with the snow pack.
These crystals do not play well with others and create unstable layers. This's why some great early season dumps of snow followed by very cold temperatures can bury hazards for an entire season.
Although what you will need to do is get used to judging slope angles. That is really hard. There are various apps and tools that can help you. When judging a slope your looking at the steepest part that is at least 20m x 20m. Its well worth setting yourself a challenge and starting estimate some slope angles when your out in resort. You can then start to get a natural feel for the terrain.