If you are recreating, please do so responsibly. This includes following social distancing requirements, not taking actions that risk pulling emergency service workers away from the important work they’re doing, or compromising their ability to continue that work.
To prevent spread of COVID-19, please do not travel to Flagstaff for recreation. If you are local to Flagstaff and choose to head to the backcountry, every effort should be made to avoid injuries. Now is not the time to visit a hospital which may be overwhelmed due to COVID-19. Know the conditions and know your limits!
Our first significant storm of the season arrived this week - a bit earlier than usual in recent years. Without a significant base prior to this storm, hidden obstacles like rocks and logs will be your primary concern. Forecasted winds near and above treeline may create a wind slab problem on steep (>30°) isolated slopes near and above treeline. Expect things to start changing again midweek, as a Thanksgiving holiday storm may impact our area.
'Twas the witch of November come stealin'
The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
When the gales of November came slashin'
Near and Above Treeline:This storm blessed us with early season pow, and reports suggest some skiable lines have opened in the backcountry. Getting to and from those lines will be hazardous on our rocky peaks - the base is only 24" at 10,800'. Should you make it out there, then watch for new windslabs developing on steep (>30°) isolated slopes near and above treeline.
Below Treeline:Without a significant base prior to this storm, hidden obstacles like rocks and logs will be your primary concern. The Snowslide Canyon snotel (Inner Basin) at 9730' is reporting 12" of snow.
Forecasted winds may create wind slab problems on steep (>30°) isolated slopes near and above treeline. Any wind slab problems you encounter will likely have the ability to produce only small avalanches.
As the sun heats things up over the weekend, watch for small loose sluffs on steep sunny slopes. This problem will only create very small avalanches.
As of November 19, uphill travel at the Arizona Snowbowl is currently closed.
For information on uphill travel within the Arizona Snowbowl ski area, please refer to www.flagstaffuphill.com and https://www.snowbowl.ski/the-mountain/uphill-access/ for details. Access to the Kachina Peaks Wilderness is available from the lower lots at Snowbowl via the Humphreys Trail and Kachina Trail.
Updated November 22, 2019 by David Lovejoy
Winter came in with a punch on Wednesday, November 20 when several weather systems coalesced creating a significant precipitation producing event. A cut off low pressure system sat off the coast of Baja for several days where it collected residual moisture from a dying sub-tropical disturbance. Gradually, this energized system tracked into northern Arizona where this system encountered a cooler mid latitude low-pressure trough on its eastward migration across the continental USA. The result was widespread precipitation statewide, ranging from one to three inches of rain in many locations. By Thursday, cooling advection, from the encounter with the mid-latitude disturbance, lowered the freeze line and brought significant early season snowfall at elevation above 5500’. Arizona Snowbowl reported a storm total of 22".
There is still potential for light snowfall a high elevations. Snow flurries are forecasted to gradually subside by Friday afternoon. On the peaks, prevailing winds will shift counter- clockwise to northwest, north and then northeast, with velocities in the moderate range, gusting to 25 mph. Temperature will remain mostly below freezing at the top of the ski area throughout the weekend and into next week. After a few clear days, snow showers may return later next week, as another low pressure system brushes by the region. It is starting to feel like winter.
On Thursday afternoon, Nov, 21, the Inner Basin SNOTEL site (Snowslide) reported a snow depth of 12” (30.5 cm) at 9730 feet. Arizona Snowbowl reported a settled base of 24” (61 cm) at 10,800 feet. Since November 14th , SNOTEL temperatures have ranged between 14° F on November 22 and 55° F on November 18. ASBTP station (11,555 feet) has not been reporting, but at the Little Spruce station (ASBLS, elevation 9,379 feet) temperatures reported in the last week were between 19° F on November 22 and 61° F on November 18.