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!
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 [...]
Near and Above Treeline: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.
Below Treeline: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.
Submit your observations here. You may save a life! The link to this form is now on our home page and snowpack menu.
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.
Update Friday January 17
The long wave, low amplitude trough persisted throughout last week bringing several quick passing, short wave, low pressure systems. These brought high elevation winds from the southwest, shifting to the northwest, and clouds, but no measurable new snow.
On Thursday and Friday, a more productive event potentially tapping into subtropical moisture will be upon us. Precipitation depends on the intersection of several factors, making prediction difficult. However, the latest models are showing subtropical moisture missing us to the east. We could get 0-2 inches of new snow between Thursday night and Friday afternoon, but conditions are likely to produce wind rime than snow falling out of the sky.
The weekend will bring gradually clearing and warming conditions with subsiding wind. The next prospects for more snow appears to be Tuesday of next week when a relatively dry low pressure system approaches the region.
Arizona Snowbowl reported a 54" (137cm) base at 10,800 feet. Snowslide SNOTEL reports a 37" (94cm) snow depth. So far this winter, we have had 138" (350cm) of snowfall at 10,800 feet.
Since January 10th, SNOTEL temperatures have ranged between 6° F on January 10th and 40°F on January 15. ASBTP station (11,555 ft) reported a low of 5.5° F on January 10th and a high of 37° F on January 15.