Freezing levels are vital to understanding conditions on Mount Hood. The freezing level can vary widely on the mountain, turning powder into mashed potatoes or nice corn snow into solid ice. Complicated weather patterns control these shifts, but since I am no meteorologist I will stick to the top four basics as I understand them.
Here are the three main points I consider when I see a freezing level pattern on a forecast for Mount Hood:
1. The trend is just as important as the number. If the level is level is 5,000 tonight but rising to 6,500 tomorrow, things are going to get soggy.
2. In winter the freezing level is generally higher than the snow level by about 1,000 feet. Just because the freezing level is up around 5,000 feet doesn’t mean that Skibowl will be bare.
3. That said, the best fresh snow is generally 1,000-2,000 feet above the freezing level. You can’t always get there by chairlift, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get there.
4. Freezing level doesn’t always correlate with snowfall. Mount Hood weather can be pretty darn whacky. Sometimes the temp is 25 and it’s raining. Other times the temp is 40 and it’s snowing. The more you think you know, the less you know.
Last modified: September 22, 2013