Local

Avalanche danger high in the North Cascades backcountry

A telemarker carves a slope near Artist Point in the North Cascades backcountry in 2008.
A telemarker carves a slope near Artist Point in the North Cascades backcountry in 2008. The Bellingham Herald

As the recent severe cold gives way to warmer temperatures and fresh snowfall, the Northwest Avalanche Center has issued an avalanche warning, citing extreme danger in the North Cascades backcountry.

Meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Seattle said in a statement that new snowfall atop a base that was compacted during the recent cold snap could cause slope failure.

“Increasing heavy snow will load potential weak layers formed during the recent cold weather and build new potential unstable layers on Monday,” the statement said.

Avalanche danger is high, both above and below the treeline, according to the Northwest Avalanche Center’s website, nwac.us. Backcountry travel is not recommended.

A warning of high danger is just below extreme, which is the most severe notification. Its warning does not apply to ski areas where avalanche mitigation measures are performed.

At the Mt. Baker Ski Area east of Bellingham, 10 inches of snow fell over the weekend, adding to an 84-inch depth, according to the avalanche center. The ski area records a 122-inch base at Pan Dome, its highest elevation at 5,100 feet.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

  Comments