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Mt Hood

Issued: 8:45 PM PST Sunday, March 4, 2018
by Robert Hahn

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.

A serious involvement occurred near Setting Sun Mountain in the Cascade East-North zone on Sunday.

On Saturday, March 3rd an avalanche occurred in the Long's Pass area,  within the North Fork of the Teanaway River Drainage, resulting in two fatalities and serious and minor injuries to two others. . The D2.5 (large to very large) hard slab avalanche released on South and West aspects in complex terrain.  The slab released 3' down on a weak layer believed to be the 2/13 facets. NWAC forecasters visited the location of the avalanche both Saturday and Sunday. We are compiling information for a more detailed report.

It is still possible to trigger large and destructive avalanches in wind-loaded, steep, open slopes at upper elevations. Stay off of open, obvious wind loaded terrain steeper than 35 degrees and allow recent wind layers time to heal.

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Avalanche Problems for Monday

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.

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Forecast for Monday:

Monday's forecast calls for a chance of an isolated snow shower in the morning, then becoming partly to mostly sunny.

Wind slabs are healing, but it is still possible to trigger large and dangerous wind slab avalanches near and above treeline especially on leeward northwest through north through southeast slopes where drifted wind features exist. These avalanches could be large and destructive. Avoid these avalanches by staying off of snow drifts, deeply pillowed features, and fresh cornices on leeward slopes 35 degrees and steeper.

If the sun makes an appearance for extended period of time Monday, you may see small loose avalanches release on steep slopes on the south half of the compass. 

Avalanche Summary:

Mt. Hood received 1" of new snow Sunday evening. A few inches of snow fell during the day Thursday, following on the heels of about 8-10 inches of snow that was deposited Wednesday night through Thursday morning. Strong, mostly SSW winds accompanied Wednesday night's snowfall. A variety of snow conditions exist within the upper snowpack, ranging from sandwiches of soft snow and crusts existing on sunny aspects, wind affected 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.

Observations

On Saturday, Mt. Hood Meadows ski patrol reported no new avalanche activity other than small loose wet avalanches on steep solar aspects below treeline. 

On Friday, NWAC observer Laura Green reported reported ski cuts and test results in sheltered terrain did not indicate the potential for triggering slab avalanches. She did report cracking and propagation on recently wind loaded slopes.

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

USE AT YOUR OWN RISK

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.