The week of February 28- March 5 brought variable temperatures and no new measurable snow. Two weeks has passed since the last snowfall event (16 inches on February 22) while wind and warming temperatures have begun to transform the snowpack. Some windward areas of the peaks were stripped of snow during recent high wind events while other areas have retained a 1-2 meter snow depth.
No new avalanches have been reported since the February 22 storm. Warm temperatures through Saturday, March 7th could increase the likelihood of loose wet avalanches, both natural and human triggered, although the potential remains limited.
The structure of the Kachina Peaks snowpack remains complicated with multiple crusts and moderate temperature gradients.
Recent wind has exposed a sun crust from prior to the February 22 storm and is now the surface in many areas. Rain crusts from December remain in sample test pits from N, E and W aspects. Recent test pits, however, also indicate little propagation propensity and high stability.
Skiing is reported to be highly variable and snow travel is likely to require crampons and an ice axe. Go prepared into the Northern Arizona backcountry with the necessary tools. Obstacles are becoming more prevalent and until more snow falls will be a primary objective hazard in the backcountry.
Watch for the interaction of old and new snow should the forecast hold.
Please submit any observations via the button on our homepage!
Confidence is currently low in the upcoming week's storm at the time of writing. However, pay attention to the bed surface and location and amount of snow if you are traveling in the backcountry this week. If temperatures drop and a large temperature gradient near the surface remains in the snowpack, the conditions may produce more near surface faceting, representing a potential weak layer for any new snow to bury.
It is always prudent to study the character of the current snow surface and note the general snow coverage before a storm, especially should the upcoming weeks produce large amounts of snow. The current rigid surface will act as a potential bed surface in the future.
Near and Above Treeline:Ice axe and crampons are strongly recommended for travel on the Kachina peaks. Expect snow surface conditions to vary wildly between aspects and throughout the course of the day.
Small loose wet avalanches may be possible as temperatures peak during a warm day, particularly on sunny aspects. Pay attention to surroundings and the consequences of terrain. That is, consider the likelihood and impact of a wet slough, particularly on steep high elevation terrain near obstacles and cliff bands.
Snow conditions reportedly remain highly variable, even feet apart. Expect anything from corn snow to breakable crust to a firm, icy surface. Be prepared.
Below Treeline:With no new snow in nearly two weeks, obstacles have become the primary hazard. Small loose wet sloughs remain possible on some isolated sunny slopes but snow depth decreases rapidly with loss of elevation. Egress from the backcountry is becoming increasing difficult as standard routes burn out and more hiking is involved. Plan accordingly.
Warm temperatures are forecast through Saturday, March 7. As temperatures peak on these warm days the possibility for loose wet sloughs increase, both human triggered and natural. This is more likely on sunny slopes, though possible on all slopes if temperatures climb high enough. To avoid this risk on warm days, start and travel on affected slopes early.
If temperatures cool beginning Sunday, March 8 as forecast, the risk decreases.
Join KPAC and crew for the Annual Mikee Linville Fundraiser event at Agassiz Lodge, Arizona Snowbowl, on Saturday March 28, 12-5 pm. Huge raffle of amazing prizes, including an unlimited Snowbowl Power Pass! This is our main education fundraiser and we hope to recoup the $8400 in scholarships awarded this winter...Thank you for your support and hope to see you there!
Always carry the 10 essentials and avalanche rescue gear for wintertime wilderness travel. Practice with your avalanche rescue gear. There is still space available in our avalanche courses.
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.
Weather updated Friday March 6
Last weekend started with clear weather as a predicted low-pressure system began to build south of the area. On Sunday, winds picked up as this system tracked just east of Coconino County, with most of the energy missing us and proceeding to the White Mountains and the Four Corners region.
On Monday temperatures fell and winds shifted to the east and north east as we caught only the western most edge of the storm system. Only a dusting of new snow was observed, but no measurable precipitation was recorded on the Peaks. The rest of the week brought temperatures in the upper 30’s F during the days and lows in the mid 20’s F at 11,555 feet. High temperatures even climbed to 45°F on Thursday at 11,555 feet, yielding spring like conditions on the slopes.
Beginning Sunday, March 8, there will be a slight chance of snow flurries above 7,000 feet with minimal accumulation expected. On Tuesday and Wednesday a potential southern tap interacting with a closed low pressure system may bring substantial moisture to Arizona. The forecast is for 1-2” of moisture, translating to 10”-20” of snow at higher elevations. However, the system is still 5-6 days out, so confidence is low. High temperatures will stay in the mid to upper 30’s F with lows in the in the lower 20’s at night. Moderate winds will continue out of the south and southwest.
Arizona Snowbowl reported a 56" (142 cm) base at 10,800 feet. Snowslide SNOTEL is reporting a questionable depth of 48" (122 cm) at 9,730 feet. So far this winter, we have had 163" (414 cm) of snowfall at 10,800 feet.
Since Friday February 28th, SNOTEL temperatures have ranged between 49°F on March 4th and 13°F on February 28th. ASBTP station (11,555 ft) reported a low of 12°F on March 2nd and a high of 45°F on March 5th.