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!
The current snowpack in the Kachina Peaks is generally high in strength and demonstrates low propagation propensity, though poor structure associated with faceting around the December rain crust is worth mentioning. Natural and human caused avalanches are unlikely this weekend. Small avalanches are possible in isolated areas and in extreme terrain. Settlement rates have subsided at our fixed measuring sites indicating a stabilizing snowpack.
While conditions are trending toward a spring snowpack with potential for good corn skiing on sun exposed aspects with adequate coverage, keeping an eye on the December rain crust is prudent. In this scenario, beware of warming temperatures increasing the possibility of wet slide activity.
Snow surfaces are mostly supportable crust associated with Tuesday's weather event which brought rain up to 10,000 feet and 1 - 2" of new snow at treeline. Winds and clear skies following this relatively warm weather event caused a firming of snow surfaces. Satisfactory ski conditions on near surface facets can be found in protected locations at mid-elevations. Terrain above tree-line is very wind affected and scoured to the ground in areas.
The December rain crust is still easily discernible below the surface, however, when reactive it proves to be sluggish and shows little propagation propensity. While this December 4th crust is breaking down it is still worth tracking as it becomes loaded with new snow or precipitation.
Near and Above Treeline:Ice tools and crampons will help prevent dangerous slides for life on hard snow and ice
Little snow is currently available for transport by ridge top winds above treeline. However, caution is advised when approaching leeward terrain as windslabs may have developed.
Daytime warming will lead to deteriorating stability on sun exposed terrain. Be alert to conditions that change with elevation, aspect and time of day. Adjust your travel plans accordingly.
Coverage varies by aspect, elevation and location, but expect to find snow depths from 1 to 2 meters.
Snow surface varies from wind scoured or loaded, to sun crust to settled snow showing signs of near surface faceting in protected locations.
Below Treeline:The long dry spell and warm temperatures have led to deteriorating ski conditions below 8,500'. Numerous hazards exist at and just below the snow surface.
Approach high elevation, leeward ridge lines with caution. Beware of wind drifts in steep terrain.
As corn skiing options open, timing is key to avoid hazards associated with a warming snowpack. With temperatures this weekend forecast to reach 40 degrees Fahrenheit at 10,000 feet, avoid steep, sun exposed terrain as stability deteriorates during the heat of the day.
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.
Updated Friday January 24
Unsettled weather midweek brought our first measurable snowfall since January 10th, along with moderate winds out of the south southwest, shifting north and northeast on Wednesday January 22nd. Snowbowl reported an additional 2” of snow at 10,800 feet. In the aftermath of this minor event, building high pressure resulted in warmer weather, sunny skies and generally easing winds into the weekend.
Unsettled weather and the possibility for snow showers is on tap for Sunday night through Monday. At the time of publication the approaching low pressure system seems weak, so little accumulation of new snow is expected. The snowline will be between 5000 - 6000 feet. Following this, high pressure is expected to build once again bringing warm and settled conditions for the foreseeable future.
Arizona Snowbowl reported a 52” (137 cm) base at 10,800 feet. Snowslide SNOTEL reports a 34” (86 cm) snow depth. So far this winter, we have had 140” (356 cm) of snowfall at 10,800 feet.
Since January 17th, SNOTEL temperatures have ranged between 16° F on January 21st and 44 ° F on January 20. ASBTP station (11,555 ft) reported a low of 16.5° F on January 21st and a high of 47° F on January 19.