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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Prospect of avalanches melts away with the snow

Rich Landers Outdoors editor

The avalanche danger that lurked in the Sherman Pass area two weeks ago has disappeared, along with most of the snow.

Snowshoes rather than skis are the ticket for backcountry travelers, said Keith Wakefield, Colville National Forest recreation specialist in Republic. “The trail around the west aspects and south side of Sherman Peak is now bare in spots, requiring hiking,” he said.

Many west- and south-facing slopes are bare of snow, he said, noting that temperatures finally cooled off and the remaining light snowpack refroze on Friday.

“The present conditions match an entry I have (in my snow report log) from May 3, 2004.”

Farther west, the January snowpack is at its lowest level in 28 years, said state climatologist Philip Mote, a research scientist with the Pacific Northwest Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington.

Storms have delivered 70-80 percent of normal precipitation, he said, but most of it has been in the form of rain that has erased the snowpack crucial for servicing skiers now and for feeding streams later in the year.

The snowpack in most Cacades basins is 20-30 percent of normal.

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