Mount Hood wet avalanche threat increased


12 inches or more of snow is expected at 4500 feet this weekend

MOUNT HOOD, Ore. (KOIN) — Rising temperatures increased the likelihood of wet avalanches on Mount Hood, the Northwest Avalanche Center said Friday.

Ski areas on Mount Hood were drenched in rain or freezing rain on New Year’s Day before turning to snow Wednesday afternoon.

“The crust formed by rain on New Year’s Eve may provide a good bed surface for wet snow to slide,” the Northwest Avalanche Center said. Warming signs include roller balls on the surface, dripping trees or natural wet avalanches.

“Remember that loose wet avalanches can be more powerful than you expect and can push you into trees or other obstacles,” officials said.

The avalanche danger is listed as moderate near or below the treeline, and considerable above the treeline.

KOIN 6 Meteorologist Kelley Bayern said a gradual drying trend continues through Friday afternoon. The first round of rain showers and abundant mountain snow begins late Friday evening. Potentially 12 inches or more of snow is expected through the weekend for areas around 4500 feet. Early Saturday will see wind gusts between 40 and 50 mph in the mountain passes.

Mount Hood webcam

Business at local lifts

Warmer temperatures and little snow means the lifts are still closed at Ski Bowl, but that didn’t stop some people from gearing up anyway.

“Thank God for the tube hill—we saw a significant amount of visitation,” said Vice President and General Manager Mike Quinn. “They are coming in on a daily basis asking when we are going to open. We really thought we would get open by the 27th, 28th and then it just kind of flopped out on us.”

Father Patrick Conney was out at Ski Bowl teaching his 5-year-old daughter how to ski despite the conditions.

“I was hoping there would be more snow because we want Ski Bowl to succeed and this is her first year skiing,” said Conney. “So I want to teach her how to ski and I have to have a long season to do that.”

While skiers are enjoying the slopes at Timberline at higher elevations, experts said snow totals are significantly below average. That could possibly change this coming weekend.

“There is a lot of ingredients over the next 48 hours,” said a Portland National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration official. “Rapid warm-up today, really windy tonight, then the cold front goes through tonight and early tomorrow.”

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