Chugach State Park

Fri, March 8th, 2024 - 7:00AM
Sat, March 9th, 2024 - 7:00AM
Mary Gianotti
Conditions Summary

Weekend Avalanche Outlook

Saturday, March 9th – Sunday, March 10th

Bottom Line: Sustained 10-20 mph winds with gusts up to 40 mph are forecast to start Sunday morning and taper off by Sunday evening. 1-4″ of new snow is forecast to come in at the same time as the wind event. Wind slabs are going to be the most likely way to trigger an avalanche this weekend. Your chances of triggering a wind slab will increase when the winds pick up on Sunday and the size of the avalanche will depend on how much new snow comes in. Wind slabs can be avoided by sticking to sheltered or wind-scoured areas. To identify areas with wind slabs, feel for hollow punchy snow on the surface.

Special Announcements

Turnagain Pass Avalanche Awareness Day – Saturday, March 23!
Swing by the Turnagain motorized parking lot between noon and 4pm to grab a hotdog, practice your beacon skills (we’ll have a small park set up), chat with the forecast team, and possibly test out a demo snowmachine provided by local dealers. This is a fun day designed to connect with our excellent backcountry community!

Recent Avalanches

Recent Avalanches: Over the past week, we have had two observations in the Chugach State Park with one documented glide avalanche. Similar to previous weeks, the poor surface conditions have been most likely contributing to low traffic in the range.  We rely heavily on public observations. If anyone gets out this weekend, especially somewhere in a less traveled zone, like the Upper Ship Creek Observation from this week, let us know what you are seeing out there. We always appreciate any information you all have to share.  Thank you!

Weather Recap: Last weekend sustained 15-30 mph winds predominately from the SSE with gusts up to 50 mph hit the Front Range.  The wind event started Saturday morning and tapered off by Monday evening. The remainder of the week had relatively light variable winds. The Front Range received no new snow this past week. Temperatures ranged from -15F to 40F. The Valley bottom of the South Fork of Eagle River dipped to a low of -21F.

We are in an ongoing entrenchment period of heavily wind-affected snow surface conditions.  Snow depth remains variable across the range from bare ground to up to 10′ of snow depth. Similar to last week, it is getting increasingly more difficult to find snow that has not been wind-affected. On our field day on March 6th, we noticed small roller balls and other sun affect on our ski turns. 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: This weekend is forecast to have mostly overcast skies. Temperatures are expected to range from low teens to mid-twenties F. On Friday and Saturday, winds are forecast to be light and variable with no new snow. However, starting on Sunday morning, the winds are expected to pick up to sustained 10-20 mph winds with gusts up to 40 mph from the SE. The wind event is expected to taper off by that evening. As mentioned in the bottom line, 1-4″ of new snow is forecast to come in at the same time as the wind event.

View of Peak 3 from Peak 2 Ridge. Photo: 3.6.24

Avalanche Problem 1
  • Wind Slabs
    Wind Slabs
Wind Slabs
Wind Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer of snow (a slab) formed by the wind. Wind typically transports snow from the upwind sides of terrain features and deposits snow on the downwind side. Wind slabs are often smooth and rounded and sometimes sound hollow, and can range from soft to hard. Wind 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

Wind Slabs:   Wind slab avalanches are the main concern going into the weekend. Because the existing snow surfaces are predominately firm with little snow available for transport, the new wind slabs are expected to be small and will depend heavily on how much new snow comes in with the wind event on Sunday.  As mentioned in the bottom line, to identify areas with wind slabs, look for hollow snow on the surface. Carefully evaluate cross-loaded gullies, wind-loading off of ridges, and rollover features, and be on the lookout for shooting cracks. Keep in mind that stiffer wind slabs can fail once you are farther out onto the slope and can surprise you. Using small test slopes can be a good way to check whether wind slabs are reactive to human triggers in the area you are traveling.

View of McHugh Peak from Peak 2 Ridge. Photo: 3.6.24

Small shooting crack at one of our pit locations on Peak 2. Photo: 3.6.24

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.