Avalanche Threat Continues for the Pacific Northwest

By Anthony Sagliani, Meteorologist
March 8, 2014; 8:45 AM ET
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Play video Here is a detailed look at the forecast for the Northwest over the next 24 hours.

Recent snow and wind combined with mild air on Saturday will set the stage for avalanches into Monday.

Mild air will surge northward into Oregon and Washington on Saturday. A storm system will then bring rain across all but the highest elevations Saturday night before snow levels gradually lower Sunday into Monday.

Combined with wind and new snowfall over the past 24-48 hours, above-freezing temperatures and rain in all but the higher elevations Saturday night into Monday will trigger a considerable threat for avalanches.

The highest threat for avalanches will be found in the Olympic Mountains of western Washington and both the western and eastern slopes of the Cascades in Washington and Oregon.

Avalanche impacts across these areas include locations above, near and below the tree line. Those who plan to do any back-country skiing or hiking through the mountainous terrain should be aware that dangerous avalanches can occur with little or no warning.

In fact, The Northwest Avalanche Center says, "careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making is essential."

This image from the The Northwest Avalanche Center shows the danger from loose wet avalanches.

Northwest Interactive Radar
Huge Landslide Photographed in Alaska
Current Watches and Warnings

The most serious avalanche concern will come from Loose Wet avalanches, which occur when water is running through the snowpack due to rain or melting, and it is released at or below a trigger point.

Though still possible, it should also be noted that impacts from possible avalanches in developed ski areas and terrain near highways are somewhat lower due to ongoing avalanche mitigation techniques.

As snow levels lower gradually into Monday, the avalanche threat will continue into at least Monday.

Story thumbnail image: An avalanche danger sign closes off a specific area of the woods due to avalanche risk, on Corona Bowl, known for its extreme skiing, at Eldora Mountain Resort, near Nederland, Colo., Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014. Lots of new snow and strong winds in the past month have fueled dangerous conditions from the Cascades to the Rockies, prompting forecasters to issue warnings of considerable or high avalanche dangers for many areas outside of established ski areas. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)


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