Snow conditions varied with both aspect and time of day. Wind from the last storm cycle came primarily from the southwest leaving wind packed and firmer conditions and about 3 inches of ski penetration. The leeward northeast aspects had softer drifts and more variable, but deeper ski penetration. Solar radiation started making noticeable changes midday, changing the fluffy drifts into mashed potatoes.
The forecast doesn't look good for skiers, the Mount Rainier Recreational Forecast says:
WINTER STORM WATCH IN EFFECT FROM SUNDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH
LATE SUNDAY NIGHT:
Weak high pressure will give way to a vigorous front on Sunday
afternoon and evening.
SUNDAY...Windy. Mostly cloudy in the morning, then rain and snow in the afternoon. Snow accumulation near Paradise up to 3 inches. Snow level near 4000 feet. SUNDAY NIGHT...Windy. Rain and snow. Snow accumulation near Paradise of 4 to 8 inches. Snow level near 5000 feet.
Extra caution should be used when recreating in the backcountry as a storm front like this approaches the mountain. Simple equipment failures, navigation errors, and small injuries can lead to serious consequences when the weather turns for the worse. Please remember that there's no ski patrol on Mount Rainier. Rangers and Search & Rescue Volunteers are at least hours, and possibly days(!), away from reaching injured and lost parties and storms can prevent any search or rescue attempt.
Almost five feet of snow has accumulated in the Paradise area. This is a great start for our base snowpack. There's still some small trees and rocks sticking out, and creek drainages shouldn't be entered, but many of the smaller hazards are buried until spring.
Check the Park's Twitter Feed for the latest on the road condition and closures and come on up for a visit! Be safe out there and have a happy Thanksgiving!