Flagstaff, Arizona - Backcountry of The San Francisco Peaks and Kachina Peaks Wilderness
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Given the current state of the snowpack and the three day weather forecast, natural avalanches are unlikely and human triggered avalanches may be possible above treeline from wind slabs along ridge tops and cross loaded terrain. After the long weekend, any significant change in the weather will likely correspond to an increase in the avalanche danger.
There are wind crusts and highly variable conditions at most elevations and aspects. The recent 9" of precipitation from the January 10th storm was either wind transported or lost to sublimation, with reports of wind slabs from north, west and southwest winds. Any remaining powder snow is likely found below treeline.
[...] Changes aren't permanent
But change is [...]
Catch the mist
Catch the myth
Catch the mystery
Catch the drift [...]
No natural or human triggered slab avalanches reported since the Christmas storm cycle.
For the future, continue tracking the facets associated with the December rain crusts. The next significant storm load could cause these layers to fail. Until warm spring weather arrives, our snowpack will remain highly variable and complex - review the snowpits
Ice tools and crampons will help prevent dangerous slides for life on hard snow and ice
Currently, the remaining powder snow above treeline is loading the Humphreys Peak ridge and starting zones of the Humphreys Cirque. With 0 to 2" of snow forecasted for treeline today (January 17th), southwest winds may sublimate or load areas creating new wind slab development along ridge tops, starting zones, and cross loaded terrain.
Coverage varies by aspect, elevation and location, but expect to find snow depths from 1 to 2+ meters.
Conditions are highly variable, with potential for several (or more) nice creamy turns, but expect conditions to change on the next turn. Coverage is adequate to good on most aspects above 9000'. Adequate to good coverage can be found on northerly aspects down to 8000', but expect hidden hazards under the snow surface.
Strong wind from north, west and southwest directions have raked the Peaks above treeline. Assess ridgelines and starting zones for wind slabs.