‘Enormous’ lake-crossing avalanche reported; snow slides just keep coming

Avalanche At Source Lake Courtesy Jonathon Spitzer

Avalanche at Source Lake. Photo courtesy: Jonathon Spitzer

Avalanche at Source Lake

NORTH BEND, Wash. — The Northwest Avalanche Center‘s latest observation should give people pause before playing in the backcountry — at least that’s what local snow professionals hope.

Here is what NWAC shared after venturing into the backcountry Monday in the Snoqualmie Pass area:

Several local snow professionals reported a very large and destructive deep persistent slab at one of Washington’s busiest backcountry areas, Source Lake in the Alpental Valley. Sometime between late Sunday afternoon and early Monday morning an enormous avalanche released from the upper basin of Chair Peak. The slide descended more than 2000’, crossed Source Lake, over ran a small knob, and traveled 300’ into the small trees beyond. Debris from this event covers numerous common travel routes and a very popular lunch spot. While this avalanche is impressive, the vegetation in the area shows it can produce even larger slides.

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The snow pros went on to say there’s a “deep persistent slab avalanche problem.”
Over the last week we have received near daily observations of slides with 8-10’ crowns, that are hundreds of feet wide, and/or that destroyed mature timber. This particularly tricky avalanche problem has not gone away, and continues to shape our terrain selection. Any large avalanches path should be suspect.

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The avalanche center urges everyone to check your local forecast before heading up to the snow. NWAC says it will keep sharing community observations to help track avalanche issues.

The Washington State Department of Transportation said February “was one for the books on I-90 Snoqualmie Pass!”
Feb. 2021 ranks No. 3 on the list of all-time snowiest for the month with 154.5 inches falling on the pass. Only 1955-56 (169 inches) and 1998-99 (164) rank higher. Between the snow and heavy rain, it was one of the wettest Februarys we’ve seen.
WSDOT added that winter isn’t over yet, and you can expect more cold, snowy and rainy conditions on the passes for March.