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Avalanche Forecast for 2020-12-05 06:10

  • EXPIRED ON December 6, 2020 @ 6:10 am
    Published on December 5, 2020 @ 6:10 am
  • Issued by Nick Meyers - Shasta-Trinity National Forest

The avalanche danger is LOW. Avalanches are not possible at this time due to a thin snowpack. Backcountry travel in the shallow, early season snowpack means dealing with rock and tree hazards everywhere. Tread lightly. 
A blip of snow (~.5") above 5,000 feet is expected late this afternoon/evening with strong southwest wind above treeline.

Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.

Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.

Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.

Avalanche Problem 1: Normal Caution

  • Character ?
  • Aspect/Elevation ?
  • Likelihood ?
    Very Likely

Avalanche danger is LOW. Exercise normal caution. Finding consistent snow is challenging right now. Watch out for many not-so-hidden obstacles. Get back into the avalanche awareness mindset. Use safe travel techniques and always bring your beacon, shovel and probe and most importantly, know how to use them. Now is a good time to brush up on your skills.

The current situation at Bunny Flat, south side of Mount Shasta, 6,950 feet on 12/4/20. We want frosting, not salt and pepper!

[Photo: Meyers]

Forecast Discussion

A quick message about climbing Mount Shasta currently as we've had a number of recent inquiries. This is not the time to climb the mountain. One could make a good argument that conditions are at their worst. It's a bitter cold, slippery rock and ice mess by most routes. Existing snow on the north and east sides routes is bulletproof which makes for dangerous slide-for-life conditions. South and west routes need snow to cover up the rocks. Day hikes on the lower half of the mountain are within reason, but we advise planning your main climbing trip for spring when conditions are primo!

The virtual Know Before You Go avalanche awareness presentation last night went well with 40 viewers checking in via the Zoom meeting. Excellent! Thanks everyone. If you missed it, check out

Today, Companion Rescue. Meet outside at The 5th Season store in Mt Shasta City at 9a.m. or rendezvous at Bunny Flat at 9:15. Enjoy and take pride in attending a half day avalanche beacon and rescue refresher. Bring your beacon, shovel and probe. Need motivation to practice using your avalanche beacon? Check out this 4-minute video...

Recent Observations

A few folks have been touring on snow covered roads above 6,500 feet. This includes the Sand Flat winter cross-country ski trails and the Everitt Memorial Highway past the closed gate at Bunny Flat. Some have ventured off-piste up higher in the Old Ski Bowl where a 14 inch base resides. 

Our season thus far has included one winter storm beginning on November 17th that brought 20 inches of snow to the mountain. About 12-14 inches remains in areas unaffected by wind. Ridges have lost much of their coverage.

The snowpack in general is right side up. A few crusts are intermingled throughout. Snow surfaces are variable with some cold, low-lying areas hosting sugary, faceted snow. Keep an eye on areas where this weak snow exists before our first big storm. 

There is no usable snowpack at Castle Lake and temperatures have been staying mostly above freezing. Heart Lake is frozen and local backcountry ice skaters have been enjoying this. Castle Lake and Cliff Lake are not frozen at this time.

Roads are free and clear of snow/ice to Bunny Flat and Castle Lake trailheads. The gate is closed at Bunny Flat and snow exists on the road past the gate, up into the Old Ski Bowl. Sand Flat winter trails are open. Cross-country skiing is possible but conditions marginal. Pilgrim Creek snowmobile park is open, but very little snow exists.

Weather and Current Conditions

Weather Summary

Today will bring increasing clouds and a chance for rain and snow this afternoon and evening. Just go with your excitement and wax up those boards, but no powder days yet. While this system is the most significant of the week, precipitation totals are minimal. Expect less than an inch of new snow above 5,000 feet along with moderate southwesterly wind. Above treeline on the mountain will host stronger wind. Tomorrow, strap back in for the norm: Sunny skies, inversions, light easterly flow. Long term, it will be another week or so before our next best chance at weather.

[Image from Brett Lutz, NWS Medford]

24 Hour Weather Station Data @ 5:00 AM

Weather Station Temp (°F) Wind (mi/hr) Snow (in) Comments
Cur Min Max Avg Avg Max Gust Dir Depth New Water Equivalent Settlement
Mt. Shasta City (3540 ft) 26 26 51 36 2 N
Sand Flat (6750 ft) 34 29 44 35 9 0 0 0
Ski Bowl (7600 ft) 37.5 34.5 45.5 41 14 0 0 0
Gray Butte (8000 ft) 40.5 38 43 41 14 31 E
Castle Lake (5870 ft) 36 36 46.5 41 7.3 0 0
Mount Eddy (6509 ft) 40.5 35 46.5 39 2 4 WSW 10.2 0 0
Ash Creek Bowl (7250 ft) n/a
Ash Creek Ridge (7895 ft) n/a

Two Day Mountain Weather Forecast

Produced in partnership with the Medford NWS

For 7000 ft to 9000 ft
(4 a.m. to 10 p.m.)
Saturday Night
(10 p.m. to 4 a.m.)
(4 a.m. to 10 p.m.)
Weather Sunny this morning, then mostly cloudy with a chance of rain and snow this afternoon. Snow level near 5,000 feet. Chance of snow, breezy. Snow level near 5,000 feet. Mostly sunny
Temperature (°F) 41 29 35
Wind (mi/hr) South/Southwest 15-25 Northwest 10-20 North 10-20
Precipitation SWE / Snowfall (in) 0.00 / 0 0.04 / 0-0.50 0.00 / 0
For 9000 ft to 11000 ft
  Saturday Saturday Night Sunday
Weather Sunny and breezy, then chance of snow after 4p.m. Chance of snow, windy. Mostly sunny, windy
Temperature (°F) 30 20 25
Wind (mi/hr) South/Southwest 25-35 Northwest 20-30 North/Northeast 15-25
Precipitation SWE / Snowfall (in) 0.00 / 0 0.04 / 0-0.50 0.00 / 0

Season Precipitation for Mount Shasta City

Period Measured (in) Normal (in) Percent of Normal (%)
From Oct 1, 2020 (the wet season) 1.70 8.26 21
Month to Date (since May 1, 2021) 0.00 0.90 0
Year to Date (since Jan 1, 2021) 14.61 36.26 40


This forecast does not apply to Ski Areas or Highways and is for the Mt. Shasta, Castle Lake and Mt. Eddy backcountry. Use this information for guidance only. You may find different conditions in the backcountry and should travel accordingly. This forecast expires 24 hours after the posted time unless otherwise noted.