Flagstaff, Arizona - Backcountry of The San Francisco Peaks and Kachina Peaks Wilderness
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Other than flurries on Saturday/Sunday December 12/13 , resulting in <2” of new snow, last week was cold, windy and dry. Gale force winds dominated early in the week with peak gusts of 73 mph recorded at 12:30 am on December 13 at the top of the Grand Canyon Express lift, AZ Snowbowl, 10,900'
Strong winds probably caused more loss of snow to sublimation than re-deposition. A calmer period midweek was then replaced by a resumption of the raging tempest as another storm passed, precipitation mostly evading us to the north. Flurries of snow were reported on Thursday evening December 17 but there was little accumulation. The snowpack, if what we have even meets the definition, is marginal at best. Until significant new snow arrives, natural and human triggered avalanches will continue to be very unlikely.
There is insufficient snow for backcountry skiing or boarding. What little snow remains is confined to wind protected pockets above treeline and down in the forest. Remaining snow is quickly turning to poorly bonded facets, if it has not already blown back into the atmosphere by the winds. Facets of 1.5 -2 mm in size have been observed in Seven Meadows, a southwest aspect, and west and north aspects between 10,000' and 11,000'.
The settled base at 10,800’ is 12 inches. So far this winter, 27” of snow has fallen.
For more information on the forecast leading up to Christmas, see the weather section.