Mikee Linville Backcountry Scholarship fundraiser tomorrow, March 31st, Saturday afternoon on the Agassiz Deck. Live music, raffle, silent auction. 2018/2019 SEASON POWER PASS UP FOR GRABS! Yahoo! Funds go directly to students to help pay for avalanche courses.
Natural and human triggered wet avalanches may be possible as near treeline temperatures push 50° F. No human triggered avalanches, nor significant slab avalanches have been reported this season. However, spring is here, the sun is higher and the temperature is warmer. Be aware of wet avalanche issues. Wet slide possibilities are mitigated somewhat by the relative lack of snow on warmer/sunny aspects.
High elevation North aspects may retain reactive weak layers. Recent tests above treeline, 11,600' north aspect, revealed a weak snowpack structure in thin areas (100 cm), with moderate to low fracture propagation.
Current skiable terrain with sufficient coverage is mostly on wind protected slopes and/or northerly aspects. Spring corn cycle skiing predominates. Knowing the elevation and duration of overnight freezing temperatures is crucial to safe spring skiing, as well as timing aspect dependent descents. Year to date snowfall is 95", with a base of 36".
Travels can be challenging due to our shallow snowpack. Expect to carry your skis/boards. Logs and rocks are a significant hazard. Melt/freeze crusts have developed on all aspects and elevations. Crampons may be helpful.
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 ~36" (91 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 zero 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.
The warmest temperatures (so far) of 2018 are upon us. Monitor the snowpack surface for a layer of wet, slushy snow more than several inches deep. Water may be visible between the ice grains. On small, very steep test slopes, the surface layers will slide easily. Fresh roller balls–little snowballs–indicate that the snowpack surface is getting weak.
Travel early when the snow surface is colder and stronger after consistent freezes. Plan your trips to avoid crossing on or under very steep slopes in the afternoon. Move to colder, shadier slopes once the snow surface turns slushy. Avoid steep, sunlit slopes above terrain traps, cliffs areas and long sustained steep pitches.
Wet slabs are possible when temperatures are warm (this week!) and snowmelt produces sufficient free water to lubricate the snowpack. The liquid water may pool in layers of the snowpack and weaken the bonds between layers.
Snowballing, pinwheels, and small Wet Slabs indicate the potential for larger Wet Slabs. Another indicator of Wet Slab avalanches is two or three nights where temperatures do not drop below freezing. Keep an eye on the weather stations linked below.
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 Thursday March 29, 2018
After a week of cool turbulent weather with disappointingly low accumulation of new snow, spring appears to have arrived in unrest. Over the past week only 2 inches of new snow was recorded at 10,800 feet. Since Wednesday, warm temperatures and light winds have brought a distinct springtime feel to the mountain as high pressure builds.
Looking into the future, overall the models are showing building high pressure. Despite two shallow low-pressure troughs passing to our north early in the workweek, there is little hope for precipitation within the next 7 to 8 days. For the most part, temperatures will be spring-like, at and above normal, and breezy out of the west and north. Clouds and a short period of cooling early in the week will be replaced by warm to above average temperatures later in the week.
On the evening of March 29th the Inner Basin SNOTEL site (Snowslide) reported a snow depth of 16 inches (40.5 cm) at 9,730 ft and Arizona Snowbowl reported a settled base of ~36 inches (91 cm) at 10,800 ft. So far this winter 95 inches (241 cm) of snow have fallen at the mid-mountain study site. Since March 22nd SNOTEL temperatures have ranged between 16° on March 27th and 49° F on March 29th . For the same period, the AZ Snowbowl Top Patrol Station (ASBTP - elev. 11555 ft) temperature ranged between 11° and 38 ° F on the same days. At this point in our winter, we have received only 35% of our average seasonal snowfall at 10,800 feet.