Why Avalanches Have Mount Baldy Road Closed — With A High Degree Of Concern More Are Possible
San Bernardino County fire officials have closed Mount Baldy Road until further notice because of debris blocking the road to the Mount Baldy Resort. The resort's Twitter account reported “multiple life threatening avalanches” on Wednesday below the parking lot in the Movie Slope area.
On Thursday, resort officials reported that another "significant out of bounds avalanche" covered a section of the "Bowling Alley" section of Mount Baldy Road that's located near the entrance. That took place about 5:30 a.m.
Why it matters
Mount Baldy and the Mount Baldy Resort snow play areas are highly trafficked winter recreation locations, especially when there is a chance of snowfall. With the wet weather continuing intermittently throughout the week, the threat of more avalanches pose a danger for local residents and tourists.
Resort officials said Thursday to stay tuned for a possible Friday opening.
After major snowfall near steep mountainsides, there can be avalanche danger. Currently, the Mt. Baldy Resort and nearby popular snowplay areas cannot be accessed due to a recent avalanche covering Mt. Baldy Road. Potential danger could last 24-48 more hours or so. Stay tuned... pic.twitter.com/0XwboAhmNa— Angeles National Forest (@Angeles_NF) March 1, 2023
Southern California is experiencing one of its most intense and longest cold snaps in recent memory. Because wet weather is so infrequent in Southern California, it’s important to keep the population informed and updated on how to handle themselves safely.
How big was this snowfall? Here's a look at California from space on Feb. 10 and Feb. 26, courtesy of NASA.
Why the avalanche concern?
The So Cal Snow Avalanche Center cautions that the amount of snow we've seen — with more still coming — is an "unusual amount of snow for our mountains." See the animation above for proof. Paired with high winds, there's a lot of concern that things are not stable in the mountain backcountry.
The avalanche center lists two possible scenarios that would lead to an avalanche:
#1 Wind slab avalanche
Will be likely and large at the upper elevations on NE and E aspects and possible on all aspects below ridgelines and on sides of gullies. Look for signs of wind drifted snow. Actual blowing snow, sculpted snow, scoured ridges and cornices, pillowed snow and firmer hollow sounding snow. These are all signs of wind loaded snow. If you encounter these signs avoid pillowed areas of snow or stick to lower angle terrain below 30°.
#2 Storm slab avalanche
Storm slabs will be likely and have large natural avalanches and have been observed already. Due to copious amounts of snow expect to find these conditions on all aspects and increasing in danger and size as you gain elevation. Travel into near or beneath avalanche terrain is not advised at this time.
Go deeper: Forest officials ask the public to stay alert to any updates from their official accounts, the Mount Baldy Resort account, and any new information about weather conditions from the National Weather Service.
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