The current 7 day outlook predicts new snow - should significant snowfall occur, don't let powder fever cloud your awareness and judgment.
Natural avalanches are unlikely without significant new precipitation or warm temperatures, based on elevation and aspect; however, human triggered avalanches are possible with new snowfall, warm temperatures, or rain events, aspect and elevation dependent.
Current skiable terrain with sufficient coverage is mostly on wind protected slopes and/or northerly aspects. Year to date snowfall is 95", with a base of 40". There's been a fair amount of backcountry journeys over the last two weeks. Travels to and from the choice spots are a bit tricky and challenging due to our shallow snowpack. Expect to carry your skis/boards. Logs and rocks are a significant hazard. Warm temperatures over the last few days have created melt/freeze crusts on all aspects and elevations. Spring corn cycle skiing is in the near future. Knowing the elevation and duration of overnight freezing temperatures is crucial to safe spring skiing, as well as timing aspect dependent descents.
No human triggered avalanches, nor significant slab avalanches have been reported this season. However, as spring is officially here, and the sun is higher, temperatures warm, be aware of localized wet avalanche issues.
Persistent weak layers have been an issue this year. Recent data suggest that this avalanche problem is waning. See AZ snow pit data at snowpilot.org - link also under the snowpack menu.
Near and Above Treeline:Expect to find new melt/freeze crusts on all aspects. Crampons may be helpful in freezing weather where the melt/freeze crust is hardest/thickest. Spot your lines before descending, it's a thin season and rocks should be expected.
Below Treeline:With ~40" (100 cm) undisturbed settled snow depth at 10800' (NW aspect), rocks and logs remain primary hazards.
Most northerly aspects will have the best coverage with measured depths at 10000' ranging from 22 to 50" (56 cm to 127 cm), while south facing slopes range from no snow to 28" (71 cm) in favored locations near treeline. Melt/freeze crusts have developed on all aspects and snow depth is highly variable due to wind transport and sun affect, aspect dependent.
Lots of small loose wet releases were observed on Thursday, March 22nd. It does look like we are in for cooler weather over the next few days, but watch for loose wet avalanche potential as warm temperatures return.
New snow and wind are in the forecast. Current models suggest that significant amounts of new snow are unlikely, but should significant precipitation occur then watch for unstable wind and storm slab development. Post storm, warm temperatures and sunshine may destabilize newly formed storm and wind slabs.
Mikee Lineville Backcountry Scholarship fundraiser coming up! March 31st, Saturday afternoon on the Agassiz Deck. Live music, raffle, silent auction. Yahoo! Funds go directly to students to help pay for avalanche courses.
Backcountry Permits are required for travel in the Kachina Peaks Wilderness and available at local USFS locations, as well as at the Agassiz Lodge on Saturday and Sunday until 11 a.m.
Uphill travel on terrain within the Arizona Snowbowl ski area is now open. Please refer to www.flagstaffuphill.com and https://www.snowbowl.ski/the-mountain/uphill-access/ for details.
Last updated on Friday March 23, 2018
The week started out as winter and then (punctuated by the Vernal Equinox) transitioned to spring. Ten inches on new snow fell at 10,800’ on Saturday night and Sunday March 18th . This was followed by a day of cool and breezy weather. Unseasonably warm partly cloudy conditions have characterized the transition to springtime over the rest of the week.
Looking forward, a moist low-pressure trough is currently moving through and exiting our region by Friday afternoon March 23 rd . Regretfully, most of the energy flowed to our north. Still, AZ Snowbowl reported 1 to 2" of new snowfall and strong west to southwest winds, gusting to of over 30 mph. Rain will dominate at lower elevations north of the Mogollon Rim with ¼ to ½ inch possible. The aftermath of the storm will bring breezy cold conditions and more unsettled weather over the next week.
From NWS Flagstaff:
A closed low will bring a period of unsettled weather to northern Arizona from Monday through Wednesday of next week. The current forecast calls for below normal temperatures, increased cloud cover, and at least isolated rain and snow showers each day. While there is a general agreement concerning the overall weather pattern, high spread exists with regards to the amount, timing and location of these showers. Please stay tuned as the details of early next week's forecast are refined over the coming days.
On the evening of March 22nd the Inner Basin SNOTEL site (Snowslide) reported a snow depth of 22 inches (56 cm) at 9,730 ft and Arizona Snowbowl reported a settled base of 40 inches (100 cm) at 10,800 ft. So far this winter 95 inches (240 cm) of snow have fallen at the mid-mountain study site. Since March 8 SNOTEL temperatures have ranged between 8° March 19th and 53° F on March 21 st . For the same period, the AZ Snowbowl Top Patrol Station (ASBTP - elev. 11555 ft) temperature ranged between 6° on March 19 and 43 ° F on March 21 st .