Avalanche Conditions Severe this Weekend
Wondering about avalanche conditions on Sunday? Click and you'll see red. That's because shaded red areas indicate "high danger" of avalanches, and the danger is "high" and even "extreme" above 3000 feet elevation virtually everywhere tomorrow -- from the Olympics (all slopes) to the North Cascades (all slopes) down to the South Cascades (yep - all slopes.)
If there was ever a day to leave your snowshoes and cross-country skis at home, it would be tomorrow.
This is a good time for an important reminder. Anytime you are planning a winter trip into the backcountry, whether its for a beginner snowshoe around Mowich Lake or an advanced backcountry ski trip at Hurricane Ridge, you need to check avalanche conditions at the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center's website. It's simple to interpret - just click on the region for where you are going and look at the "Danger Rose" for the day you plan to go. The different sides of the rose represent different facing slopes in that region. Below that you'll see more detailed forecasts. Many variables go into these condition predictions, and even more variables are considered when predicting immediate conditions in the field (for more on field forecasting, click here.) The bottom line is, there are days every once in awhile when even the most skilled backcountry recreationists and avalanche safety gurus avoid the mountains because the danger is just too high. Tomorrow is one of those days.
It doesn't mean you have to stay home, though. There are plenty of great trails that are low in elevation with little or no snow for weekends like this. If you live in the Seattle region, try one of the history hikes at Cougar Mountain. On the Olympic Peninsula? Opt for one of these fabulous river walks. Or, here are seven hikes throughout the state that are usually snow-free year-round.
Be smart choosing your fun tomorrow, and stay safe!