This morning I drove west to east over the pass. There were natural avalanches on every aspect and on nearly every slope greater than 30 degrees. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Locally at 2 pm, resort management closed the entire mountain reporting more than eight inches of heavy, wet snow in four hours and winds exceeding 100 mph. The mountains aren’t a good place to be today.

The Danger Rose at left is from the Northwest Avalanche Center backcountry forecast for the area surrounding Mt. Hood. All that black isn’t a graphics error. Here’s a link to the complete avalanche danger scale:  Extreme.

And here’s Tuesday’s Avalanche Forecast: A major storm is expected to move across the Northwest on Tuesday. This is expected to cause strong southwest crest level winds and very heavy rain or snow with a warming trend especially in the central to south Cascades. These are great ingredients for building new soft or wind slab layers of increasing density on lee slopes. A change to rain will add further heavy loads and weaken underlying snow layers on all steep aspects. Natural and triggered avalanches possibly deep and large should be likely by Tuesday afternoon. Dangerous conditions are expected and back country travel is not recommended by Tuesday afternoon.

For the last hour I’ve been sitting with one running shoe on and one off, staring partly out the window and partly at a pile of snow gear. In a minute, I’ll lace up my other shoe and head out for a run through the wintery mix, officially giving up on skiing today. It shouldn’t have been a hard decision, and it’s definitely the right decision. Somehow, though, it’s always tough to stay home when it’s storming.

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