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Deep snow safety messaging especially in gated access terrain

Categories: Safety Media Center Guest Connection Weather Blog

Snow Safety Supervisor Brian Murphy overlooks a snow slide in gated access terrain at Mt. Hood MeadowsFrom Brian Murphy - our Snow Safety Supervisor:

We’ve received 58” inches of snow in the last 6 days, with a water equivalent of 4.74”.  We received 7” inches of low density snow 3 days prior to the current storm cycle.  That snow was allowed to weaken and facet (develop square edges) for 3 days due to cold temperatures and clear skies.  This new snow fell on a very slick rain crust that had kept the Canyon closed for an extended period of time due to surface conditions. This recipe has allowed us to develop a concern in our E-NE terrain below tree line or in sheltered areas.  Such as S&R Cliffs.  We have triggered many of these slabs in the last couple of days.  Averaging in the 2-3ft. range.  Attached are some pictures from an explosives initiated slide in the Hinterlands today.

A slab avalanche triggered during snow safety operations at Mt. Hood MeadowsA shout out to our guests who have heeded our reminders to ski with a beacon, shovel, probe and partner. Our Snow Safety team has seen a dramatic increase in people skiing with the appropriate gear this last week. We will continue to urge skiing with buddies and carrying avalanche rescue gear when traveling through steep and/or gated terrain.

Tree wells are very much still hazard, we’ve had 9 inches of settlement in the last 2 days but that still leaves almost 50” of new snow to bury yourself in a tree well.  

Warming temps with all of this snow is one of the many concerns for avalanche danger.  We have a buried weak layer on top of a crust underneath all of this storm snow,  huge snow totals high up on the mountain without the ability to control the path or the weather to investigate the snow pack that directly effects our Ski Area.

The private reserve remains “extremely difficult”  avalanche terrain filled with terrain traps and other natural hazards.  

The results of a triggered avalanche during snow safety operations at Mt. Hood Meadows