With good weather in the weekend forecast, many folks are going to be heading to the outdoors. But, according to the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center, people should stay off the higher slopes of mountains in the Cascades and Olympics because of extreme avalanche danger.
Meteorologist Kenny Kramer with the center told the Associated Press that heavy snowfall last week and expected sunshine and warm weather will make it very dangerous above 8,000 feet. He says hikers should particularly avoid Mount Hood, Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens, Glacier Peak and Mount Baker.
“The warming and sun should produce an increasing potential for wet loose or wet slabs around the 6,000-to 7,000-foot level, along with an increasing likelihood of some large slab avalanches, icefall or cornice releases above 7,000 to 8,000 feet,” the current center forecast said. “Also, melting snow from rocks or cliff areas are likely to trigger slides on the slopes below, with resulting loose or wet loose slides possibly triggering larger slab or wet slabs, depending on elevation and aspect.
“In short, this weekend should produce an increasing considerable danger around the 6,000- to 7,000-foot level and a high to extreme avalanche danger on steeper higher elevation terrain above 7,000 to 8,000 feet where signficant recent snowfall has been received.”
A 29-year-old Olympia man, Mark Wedeven, is presumed dead after he was apparently caught in an avalanche Saturday on Mount Rainier. Ten other climbers were able to escape the slide.