Chugach State Park

Fri, February 23rd, 2024 - 7:00AM
Sat, February 24th, 2024 - 7:00AM
Mary Gianotti
Conditions Summary

Weekend Avalanche Outlook

Saturday, February 24th – Sunday, February 25th

Bottom Line: Dangerous avalanche conditions are expected for the Front Range this weekend. The Front Range is expected to receive 8″ to 12″ of new snow combined with sustained 10-20 mph winds with gusts up to 35 mph. The snow coming in is forecast to be light, low-density snow that will be easy for the wind to pick up and transport. New snow instabilities are likely- from tender fresh wind slabs to dry loose avalanches. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding, and conservative decision making is recommended.

Special Announcements

Tonight (Friday, February 23rd, 2024) in Seward: Forecaster Chat, 5-6 pm at the Community Library and Museum room. Come chat with us about the new “Weekend Avalanche Outlook” product for Seward and Summit Lake. We’ll also be talking about the state of the snowpack in Summit and Seward, and any other questions you have. More info Here.

Recent Avalanches

Recent Avalanches: Over the past week, we have had two observations in the Chugach State Park with no documented natural or human-triggered avalanches. The snow surface conditions have been notably uninspiring so we are not surprised by this low traffic. The forecasting team relies heavily on public observations so if anyone gets out this weekend, let us know what you are seeing out there. We always appreciate any information you all have to share.  Thank you!

Weather Recap: As expected of the Front Range, we had a significant wind event this past week that started Monday and ended early Thursday morning.  We had sustained 20-50 mph winds from the SSE with gusts up to 94 mph. Unlike Turnagain and Hatcher, the Front Range only received 1″-2″ of new snow this week. Temperatures ranged from 12F to 45F with an average of around 30F.

Snow depth remains variable across the range from bare ground to up to 10′ of snow depth. The warm-up event of last week has created a rock-hard icy snow surface in most locations in the Chugach State Park. Moving forward, it is the time of year to start tracking surface conditions on southerly slopes as warm temperatures and solar radiation may start to form melt-freeze crusts.

Weather Forecast: Friday night into Saturday southeast winds of 15-20 mph with gusts up to 35 mph are expected. Saturday the 15-20 mph winds with gusts up to 35 mph are expected to switch to come from the west to northwest and then taper off Sunday evening.  8″-12″ of low-density snow is forecast to come in on Saturday. Temperatures will range from single digits to high teens F.  The clouds look like they will burn off to sunshine Sunday during the day.

View of The Ramp from Peak 3 ridge. Photo: 2.23.24

Avalanche Problem 1
  • Storm Slabs
    Storm Slabs
Storm Slabs
Storm Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer (a slab) of new snow that breaks within new snow or on the old snow surface. Storm-slabs typically last between a few hours and few days (following snowfall). Storm-slabs that form over a persistent weak layer (surface hoar, depth hoar, or near-surface facets) may be termed Persistent Slabs or may develop into Persistent Slabs.
More info at

With stormy weather forecast this weekend bringing between 8-12” of new snow and sustained moderate to strong winds from the southeast switching to the west through the northwest- wind slab, storm slab, and loose snow avalanches are all expected.  The predominate snow surface at mid to low elevations in the Chugach Stae Park is hard and icy. The new, low-density snow will slide easily on the pre-existing firm surface. Avalanches may run longer and entrain more snow than normal because of this. Expect to see both natural and human-triggered avalanches this weekend. Consider avoiding steep terrain and run-out zones while this storm develops.

Wind Slabs: To identify areas with wind slabs look for active wind transport and feel for firmer, hollow snow on the surface. Wind slabs can be avoided by sticking to sheltered or wind-scoured areas. Keep in mind, given the weaker snow layers buried deeper in the snowpack in some parts of the forecast zone, there may be isolated terrain where a relatively small wind slab triggered near the surface has the potential to step down to a deeper weak layer.

Dry Loose Avalanches: If you find yourself in steep, wind-sheltered terrain with soft dry snow, loose snow avalanches are almost certain. They are capable of entraining a lot of snow and will be moving fast. They probably won’t bury you but have the potential to carry you for a long way on an icy bed surface. Use sluff management techniques when appropriate.

Wind-scoured Peak 3 with rock-hard icy snow surface. Photo: 2.23.24

Avalanche Problem 2
  • Persistent Slabs
    Persistent Slabs
Persistent Slabs
Persistent Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer of snow (a slab) in the middle to upper snowpack, when the bond to an underlying persistent weak layer breaks. Persistent layers include: surface hoar, depth hoar, near-surface facets, or faceted snow. Persistent weak layers can continue to produce avalanches for days, weeks or even months, making them especially dangerous and tricky. As additional snow and wind events build a thicker slab on top of the persistent weak layer, this avalanche problem may develop into a Deep Persistent Slab.
More info at

As mentioned in our observation from this week, the warming event that occurred last week has allowed weak layers of snow in the upper snowpack to start gaining strength. That being said, since there is so much spatial variability within the range, we suspect there may be isolated slopes where buried weak layers may still produce an avalanche.  High-elevation zones that are a bit more sheltered from wind could be harboring the weak layer of faceted snow that developed during the January dry spell around a foot deep in the snowpack (one example of an area where you might find this setup is the South Fork of Eagle River).  It is possible from the loading event coming in this weekend that a wind slab could step down and trigger a deeper layer within the snowpack.

Recent Observations for Chugach State Park
Date Region Location
05/29/24 Chugach State Park Avalanche: Harp mtn west aspect
05/07/24 Chugach State Park Observation: Mt. Eklutna
04/27/24 Chugach State Park Avalanche: Chugach Front Range Powerline Valley
04/16/24 Chugach State Park Observation: South Fork of Eagle River
04/13/24 Chugach State Park Avalanche: South Fork Hiland Road
04/10/24 Chugach State Park Observation: Chugach Front Range Flattop
04/09/24 Chugach State Park Observation: South Fork of Eagle River
04/08/24 Chugach State Park Avalanche: Arctic Valley/ Gordon Lyon
04/06/24 Chugach State Park Observation: Eagle River South Fork
04/06/24 Chugach State Park Avalanche: False Peak

This is a general backcountry conditions summary. This advisory does not apply to highways, railroads or operating ski areas.