High pressure predominates with normal to above average temperatures. Natural and human triggered wet avalanche activity is possible, especially on sun affected slopes.
Evening temperatures have not consistently dropped below freezing at 11,500' the last week, resulting in increased instability due to snowpack saturation, thus increasing potential for wet avalanches and point releases on all aspects. This trend will continue until cooler evenings thoroughly freeze the snowpack, though the outlook for the next two weeks indicates above average temperatures.
There is ample snow on northerly and shaded aspects above 9500' for spring touring.
This Summary wraps up our 2016-2017 season of reporting. New precipitation and wind loading will increase avalanche hazard, especially above treeline.
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
TROY MARINO- KPAC Web guru; avalanche course instructor; Snow Summary author and active backcountry evaluator.
DAVID LOVEJOY- Education Director for KPAC; veteran lead avalanche instructor; Heart and Soul of KPAC:)
JAMES FOULKS- KPAC Treasurer; visionary; avalanche instructor and backcountry evaluator.
BLAIR FOUST- KPAC Secretary; moral compass and excellent positive force.
DERIK SPICE- KPAC President; avalanche instructor; advocate and collaborator. Snow Summary author and editor.
Near and Above Treeline:The current melt freeze cycle continues into the next week, with more melt than freeze in the forecast. Time your travels to avoid saturated conditions and monitor the depth and duration of evening freezing. Some north and higher elevation aspects retain abundant coverage of 2+ meters, thus the rugged basalt boulder substrate which helps anchor the snowpack is well buried and not as effective in preventing wet avalanche activity, especially if the snowpack is saturated.
If cooler weather returns, crampons and ice axes may increase security on steep hard snow and ice that may be encountered at high elevations. Mixed conditions exist above treeline, ski with caution!
Below Treeline:Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely other than small wet loose avalanches after warming. Unstable wet snow may develop on isolated terrain features.
Southerly and westerly aspects below 10,000' are quickly losing snow coverage as springtime warming continues. Rocks and logs are emerging just under the surface and may be hidden.
Warm temperatures may produce deep slush, snowballing, pinwheels, and small wet slides indicate the potential for larger wet loose avalanches or wet slab releases. Refer to the Agassiz Weather Station which is near treeline at 11,500' for temperature trends. If overnight temperatures do not drop below freezing then wet avalanche hazard will increase near treeline.
Quick warming after new snow can cause wet avalanches. Rain on snow can cause wet avalanches as well. Careful terrain choice relative to elevation and aspect, along with time of day will help in wet snow avalanche evaluation.
Snowpack saturation, water percolation, and/or the late March dirty snow layers exacerbate wet slide potential.
Liquid water from snowmelt or rain-on-snow, moves through the layers of the snowpack at different rates. Wet Slab avalanches happen when a weak layer or interface becomes moist, wet, or saturated. The wet snow loses strength resulting in an avalanche.
KPAC thanks you for your participation in this remarkable season. This was a very productive year for avalanche education, with 73 Level 1 Avalanche Course students; and 5 Level II Avalanche Course students. KPAC awarded $2400 in scholarships to help promote avalanche education. Thank you for your ongoing support!
MANY THANKS TO OUR ADVISORS, EDUCATORS AND COLLEAGUES:
NATE MOODY; BJ BOYLE; ARIZONA SNOWBOWL; ARIZONA SNOWBOWL SKI PATROL; USFS COCONINO NATIONAL FOREST; CITY OF FLAGSTAFF; COCONINO COUNTY SAR; RIC STANIONIS; JON MILLER; TANNER PORTER; CHRISTY BOLOGNANI; HAILEY HAGERTY AND AVA; HUMPHREYS SUMMIT; SKI HAUS; PAY N TAKE; ASPEN SPORTS; BUZZ MCELWAIN; MATHIEU BROWN; PHIL STRAUB; ALYSSA YOUNG; PRESCOTT COLLEGE; NORTHERN ARIZONA UNIVERSITY; OUR NUMEROUS SPONSORS; AND THE AMAZING SKI COMMUNITY HERE ON THE KACHINA PEAKS...THANKYOU! SAFE TRAVELS THIS SUMMER.
As always, please treat this summary with appropriately guarded skepticism, make your own assessments, and contribute to our body of knowledge by reporting your observations.
Arizona Snowbowl uphill policy.
Last updated on Sunday, April 16, 2017
Sunny, breezy and above average temperatures are forecast for the next week. High pressure is forecasted to build. There are currently no storm systems in the 10 day outlook.
The Inner Basin SNOTEL site (Snowslide) reported a snow depth of 45 inches (114 cm) at 9700'. Arizona Snowbowl reported 86 inches (218 cm) at 10800'. Since April 9, SNOTEL temperatures ranged between 20° and 59° F. Agassiz station reports temperatures between 22 and 47 degrees F.
Season snowfall to date is 328" (8.30 meters) at AZ Snowbowl, 10800'.