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.
Regularly scheduled mountain weather and avalanche forecasts for the past winter and spring have ended.
If you have any comments or suggestions regarding the weather or backcountry avalanche forecasting program, please direct them to:
or email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 206-526-6165 and leave a message.
SUMMER AVALANCHE STATEMENT
Because avalanches occur in the Northwest at higher elevations during the summer months and people have been killed by these events, here are a few notes about summer avalanches.
Loose wet avalanches are mainly associated with a few inches or more of new snowfall at high elevations. Summer snowfall is usually followed by substantial warming and melting of new snow as air temperatures rise rapidly with intense summer sunshine. Liquid water may become visible between the snow grains with a magnifier or you may be able to squeeze water out with your hands. Watch for roller balls, wet snow deeper than a few inches or increasing natural loose wet avalanches.
Wet slab avalanches are usually associated with water penetrating deeper into recent or older snow. Snow pit tests may show a change in strength due to water and / or water lubrication at a weak layer, a crust, smooth rock or the ground. Wet slab avalanches are most likely to occur during prolonged warming but there can be a lag between a melt event and wet slab activity. Watch for widening glide cracks and other wet slab avalanches. Avoid lingering below snow covered slopes with underlying smooth rock surfaces.
The collapse of seracs within glacier icefalls may entrain additional ice and snow, leading to an ice avalanche. The timing of these events is somewhat random but usually associated with meteorological conditions and glacier motion. They may also become more likely during extended periods of warm weather. It is always best not to linger in areas exposed to seracs and icefall and be aware of the low probability yet deadly consequence of an ice avalanche.
Climbers, hikers and other backcountry travelers during the summer are advised to continue to evaluate snow stability and use normal safety practices for travel in avalanche terrain with snow cover.
Have a safe and enjoyable summer! We look forward to returning next fall to prepare the NWAC for the upcoming winter and providing mountain weather and avalanche forecasts again next season. A big thanks to all who help support the Northwest Avalanche Center.