Thick, wet snow heightens avalanche risk in the Cascades

According to the Northwest Avalanche Center, the risk of avalanches is high in most of the Cascades. A piece of the mountain range spanning from Skagit County to nearly the Oregon border received a level 4 rating. This indicates both natural and human-triggered events are likely.

Avalanche Meteorologist Robert Hahn says after November’s dry spell, it was almost as though a switch flipped on Thursday.

"We’ve gone through a dry November to a very active weather pattern," said Hahn. "Over the last 24 – 48 hours, that snow has gotten more intense and also denser."


Winter weather in Pacific Northwest cuts power to thousands in Seattle, dumps snow on Cascades

Winter weather brought high winds and snow to parts of the Pacific Northwest, knocking out power in some areas and dumping fresh snow across the Cascade Range.

Hahn warns the snow everyone is playing on now is unstable. Particularly steeper slopes.

"The early season snowpack was quite weak. So, as we add this snowpack quite rapidly on top of weak underlying snowpack. The snowpack just can’t adjust to that load," said Hahn. "You really don’t want to be at the wrong place at the wrong time during those periods of intense loading."

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Heavy rain on top of mountain snow on Sunday could elevate the avalanche threat again and give way to flooding in Western Washington.