NWAC Spring 2019 Forecast Schedule:
Daily avalanche forecasts have ended for the 2018-19 season. We will issue Weekend Snow and Avalanche Summaries every Friday at noon through May 24th.
Avalanche warnings will be issued as needed throughout the Spring if unusually dangerous avalanche conditions develop.
Daily Mountain Weather Forecasts, issued only in the afternoons, will continue through April 28th.
Please continue to support your avalanche community by posting to our public observation page.
Spring Avalanche Statement
Avalanche accidents and fatalities can occur on snow-covered mountains any month of the year. Travelers need experience and specific skills to evaluate weather observations, snowpack conditions, and avalanche terrain to make decisions about when, where, and how to travel in the mountains. Consider the consequences of the terrain as you travel. Would an avalanche carry me off a cliff or into a gully? If so, would a different route be safer? Backcountry travelers need to be aware of both the terrain above and below intended routes in every season.
During periods of cold clear nights and warm sunny days, avalanche danger is lowest in the morning while the snow surface is frozen. As warm temperatures and strong sunshine melt the snow surface avalanche danger will increase creating wet snow avalanche conditions. You can reduce potential exposure to avalanche hazard by traveling earlier in the day. If you see fresh fan-shaped avalanche debris, observer new rollerballs, or experience wet surface snow deeper than your ankle you may be able to trigger wet snow avalanches on similar slopes.
Winter-like weather can impact the mountains at any time of year. This can bring an increase in avalanche danger and a return to dry snow avalanche problems. When this occurs, use caution if you are going to enter the mountains. Avoid steep open slopes greater than 35 degrees and limit the time you spend in places where avalanches may run and stop.
Expect higher avalanche danger in the days following storm systems. Do not let the clearing weather trick you. Avalanche danger may remain elevated for a few days following a winter-like storm. As temperatures warm and the sun comes out, natural and human triggered avalanches may occur in the new snow. Continue to stay off of slopes where avalanches can start and limit your exposure to areas where avalanches may run and stop until the new snow has time to adjust.
Other Springtime Hazards:
Glide cracks have formed on steep smooth slopes as water reached the ground. Glide avalanches may occur on these slopes. The exact timing of these events is very difficult to predict.
Creeks are opening and snow bridges are weakening. Fatalities involving open creek holes or collapsed snow bridges can occur.
Cornices will sag and can fail during periods of warmer weather.
Seracs within glacier icefalls may collapse at any point and entrain significant snow and ice creating icefall avalanches.
Use caution if you plan to travel near or below any of these hazards. Employ appropriate travel routes and techniques to limit your exposure to glide avalanches, creek crossings, and serac-fall hazard.
Have a fun and safe spring playing in the mountains!
NWAC forecast staff will be intermittently available during the summer. You can reach us and leave a message at:
Mail: Northwest Avalanche Center
7600 Sandpoint Way NE
Seattle, Washington 98115