Mt Hood

Issued: 6:03 AM PST Friday, March 2, 2018
by Josh Hirshberg

NWAC avalanche forecasts apply to backcountry avalanche terrain in the Olympics, Washington Cascades and Mt Hood area. These forecasts do not apply to developed ski areas, avalanche terrain affecting highways and higher terrain on the volcanic peaks above the Cascade crest level. 

You will be able to trigger avalanches in wind-loaded or steep open slopes at all elevations Friday. Recent wind and storm slabs may be found in many locations. While gradually stabilizing, these avalanche problems will need more time to heal. Stay off of open or wind-loaded slopes over 35 degrees and use travel routes and techniques to minimize your exposure to overhead avalanche terrain. Direct late-winter sunshine on steep sun exposed slopes may trigger shallow Loose avalanches.

Danger Scalei
  • No Rating
  • Low
  • Moderate
  • Considerable
  • High
  • Extreme

Avalanche Problems for Friday

Wind Slabi

Wind slabs can take up to a week to stabilize. They are confined to lee and cross-loaded terrain features and can be avoided by sticking to sheltered or wind scoured areas.

  • Avalanche Problemi
  • Aspect/Elevationi
  • Likelihoodi
  • Sizei

Storm Slabsi

Storm slabs usually stabilize within a few days, and release at or below the trigger point. They exist throughout the terrain, and can be avoided by waiting for the storm snow to stabilize.

  • Avalanche Problemi
  • Aspect/Elevationi
  • Likelihoodi
  • Sizei

Forecast for Friday:

Cool temperatures and light winds are expected Friday with partly cloudy conditions and scattered light snow showers at times. This weather will allow for a gradually decreasing danger Friday. Any extended periods of direct late-winter sunshine may trigger shallow Loose avalanches on steep slopes facing the sun.

Fresh wind and storm slabs formed by early Thursday in many locations. While these slab layers continue to settle and stabilize, the cold temperatures will slow that process. It will still be possible to trigger these avalanches Friday.

Wind slabs may vary from soft to hard and are especially likely in higher exposed terrain below ridges that received wind deposited snow Wednesday night. The most likely aspects to encounter wind slabs are NW-SE facing terrain, though variations in local winds and cross loading of mid-slope features will require careful snowpack assessment. Identify and avoid steep slopes where the wind deposited snow. In some locations these wind slabs may be hidden by soft unconsolidated snow. Use visual clues such as cornices, the lack of snow in the trees, and large snow drifts to indicate wind loading on nearby slopes. Give this avalanche problem a wide berth Friday.

Wind slabs will have the potential to become large and destructive. Use travel routes and techniques to reduce your exposure to Mt Hood’s very large avalanche paths that originate higher on the mountain.   

In wind sheltered locations, you will be able to trigger soft storm slabs up to 14” deep on open slopes greater than about 35 degrees. Storm slab layers are gradually healing but may still be possible to trigger Friday. Be patient as this active avalanche pattern proceeds. 

Avalanche Summary:

About 8-10 inches of new snow was deposited by Thursday morning. Strong, mostly SSW winds accompanied Wednesday night's snowfall. This new snow fell on a variety of snow surfaces created during the last several days including crust on sunny aspects, wind featured snow, and unconsolidated surface snow in shaded sheltered areas.

In many locations more than 3’ of snow now sits on a firm buried crust layer (2/17). This crust has been reported up to 6600’ by professionals in the region. There are currently no significant layers of concern below the 2/17 crust.


On Thursday, Mt. Hood Meadows pro-patrol reported small to large slab releases reactive to ski cuts near and below treeline on steep slopes. Explosives above treeline released large to very large hard slab avalanches on many N-E facing terrain. These large slabs had crown faces ranging from 4-6 ft deep and produced significant avalanche debris in the runout zones well below the start zones! 

No Corresponding Mountain Weather Forecast Available


This Backcountry Avalanche Forecast is provided in conjunction with the US Forest Service, and is intended for personal and recreational purposes only. Safe backcountry travel requires preparation and planning, and this information may be used for planning purposes but does not provide all the information necessary for backcountry travel. Advanced avalanche education is strongly encouraged.

The user acknowledges that it is impossible to accurately predict natural events such as avalanches in every instance, and the accuracy or reliability of the data provided here is not guaranteed in any way. This forecast describes general avalanche conditions and local variations will always occur. This forecast expires 24 hours after the posted time unless noted otherwise.