Snow experts are examining a large avalanche that plowed through Heather and Clark Canyons in the Mount Hood Meadows ski area Thursday night. The areas were closed and nobody was hurt, but experts want to know what triggered the slide.
Mt. Hood Meadows has a team of experts who fire Howitzer cannons and large concussive charges to thump snow into moving. To protect against avalanches, they even ski into areas to cut the snow and trigger a slide.
Meadows spokesman Dave Tragethon said Thursday’s avalanche happened in a gated section of the ski area that’s difficult to ski and often closed. He said he’s confident it’s well controlled.
“We haven’t determined exactly where the start of the avalanche was yet, higher up in Clark Canyon, or even above our permit area in an area that we don’t control because it’s above our permit area,” he said. “But could funnel into Clark Canyon or Heather Canyon.”
Tragethon said it’s an average year for snow, but volume is only one avalanche indicator. Another is an early snow that melts on top and then re-freezes, forming a slippery layer on which later snow can easily slide.