Huge Avalanche this Weekend on Mount Shasta, CA Described as a ‘100-Year Event’

AvyBrains | | AvalancheAvalanche
Shasta, avalanche
Avalanche path runout Mt. Shasta approximately 7,300′. Credit: SMG

Chris Carr was on backcountry skis Sunday morning when he came upon a massive wall of snow just up from the Bunny Flat trailhead on Mount Shasta, CA. Carr, who owns Shasta Mountain Guides with his wife Jenn, and his crew monitor the mountain for conditions almost daily and had heard reports of a potentially large avalanche.

“It was remarkable. It nearly took my breath away,” said Carr, who has lived in the area for 25-years.

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Sierra Club Cabin buried under snow at Horse Camp. Credit: SMG

Carr believes the avalanche in the wake of last week’s epic snowstorm was a 100-year event, reports redding.com. It crashed a four-mile trail of destruction, falling 5,000 feet in elevation until it came to rest less than a mile up from the Bunny Flat trailhead, which is at an elevation of about 7,200 feet, Carr said.

“The most unique thing was how low that wall of snow was, much further down than anything I had ever experienced,” Carr said. “It was so startling how low it was and how big it was.”

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The force came to a stop at 7,200′ leaving a pile of snow over 30′ deep, leveling everything in its path. Credit: SMG

The snow buried the Sierra Club cabin at Horse Camp, carved about a 300-foot-wide path in the terrain, ripping through trees while creating 30- to 40-foot walls, Carr said. The snow piled up so high that Carr said you could ski down the walls.

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Mt. Shasta Avalanche path February 2019. Credit: SMG

The mountain received a massive amount of snow last week — the city of Mount Shasta got 2 feet over a 24-hour period between last Tuesday and Wednesday — and then the weather warmed up, which dumped rain on top of the snow.

“When we have rain on top of snow, it’s almost like the perfect storm for these major avalanches,” Carr said, noting it creates an unstable “upside down snowpack.”

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Mt. Shasta Avalanche path February 2019. Credit: SMG

Monster avalanches have been documented on Mt. Shasta, but what is relatively uncommon is an avalanche of this size to dump down to such a low elevation, Carr said. It probably last happened in 1996, when another warm system blew into the region and rain fell on top of the snow.

“This was significantly bigger than that,” Carr said.

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Avalanche Gulch avalanche path Mt. Shasta February 2019. Credit SMG

On Monday, Mt. Shasta Ski Park had more than 10 feet of snow on top of its Douglas chairlift and about 3 feet of snow at the lodge, which sits at 5,500 feet. If you’re thinking of going into the backcountry, Carr said to check the Mount Shasta Avalanche and Climbing Information center for its daily avalanche forecast.

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Mt. Shasta Avalanche path 2/17/19. Credit: SMG

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