Chugach State Park

Fri, March 22nd, 2024 - 7:00AM
Sat, March 23rd, 2024 - 7:00AM
Andrew Schauer
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Weekend Avalanche Outlook

Saturday, March 23 – Sunday, March 24

Bottom Line: Strong southeasterly winds are expected to pick up this weekend, which once again makes wind slabs the main avalanche concern for Chugach State Park. With sustained speeds of 40 to 60 mph expected, the chances of natural and human-triggered avalanches up to a foot deep will increase through the weekend. Wet loose avalanches will also be a concern once the sun comes back and the winds calm down.


Special Announcements

There are two big events happening this weekend that should be fun for all of our snow friends out there:

Turnagain Pass Avalanche Awareness Day – This Saturday, March 23!
Swing by the Turnagain motorized parking lot between noon and 4pm to grab a hotdog, practice your beacons skills, chat with the forecast team, and possibly test out a demo snowmachine provided by local dealers.

Arctic Valley SkiMo Race with Alaska Avalanche School – This Sunday, March 24
Dust off your best costume and come join Alaska Avalanche School for their 9th annual SkiMo race fundraiser at Arctic Valley. This is a super fun and family friendly event that is available to racers of all skill levels, with long and short format race courses. Follow the link for more information!

Fri, March 22nd, 2024
Above 2,500'
0 - No Rating
Avalanche risk
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Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
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1 - Low
2 - Moderate
3 - Considerable
4 - High
5 - Extreme
Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk
Travel Advice Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features. Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern. Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding, and conservative decision-making essential. Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended. Extraordinarily dangerous avalanche conditions. Avoid all avalanche terrain.
Likelihood of Avalanches Natural and human-triggered avalanches unlikely. Natural avalanches unlikely; human-triggered avalanches possible. Natural avalanches possible; human-triggered avalanches likely. Natural avalanches likely; human-triggered avalanches very likely. Natural and human-triggered avalanches certain.
Avalanche Size and Distribution Small avalanches in isolated areas or extreme terrain. Small avalanches in specific areas; or large avalanches in isolated areas. Small avalanches in many areas; or large avalanches in specific areas; or very large avalanches in isolated areas. Large avalanches in many areas; or very large avalanches in specific areas. Very large avalanches in many areas.
Recent Avalanches

Recent Avalanches: A skier reported triggering multiple small but reactive wind slab avalanches on Mt. Gordon Lyon on Tuesday, March 19th. These were roughly 10′ wide and up to 10″ deep.

Weather Recap: We received 2-4″ snow over last weekend and early this week. Winds picked up during the stormy weather over the weekend, and then calmed for most of the week. The wind returned Thursday afternoon, and has been blowing 15 to 20 mph with gusts of 25 to 40 mph out of the southeast. Temperatures warmed through the week, with highs getting up to the low 30s to low 40s F, and low temperatures in the upper teens to low 20s F.

Weather Forecast: A large low pressure system out to the west will bring active weather our way this weekend, but unfortuately that is going to mostly mean more wind for Chugach State Park. Southeast winds have already begun picking up as of Friday afternoon, and are expected to increase to 30 to 50 mph during the day Saturday, and 40 to 60 mph on Sunday. We might see a trace to an inch of new snow over the weekend with partly to mostly cloudy skies. High temperatures are expected to be in the low to mid 30s F, with lows in the mid 20s to low 30s F.

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

We’re expecting another wind event this weekend, and our main avanche concern will be fresh wind slabs forming as the weather picks up. The size of these avalanches will be limited by the amount of soft snow on the ground available to build fresh wind slabs, but with sustained winds of 40-60 mph likely through the weekend, we are expecting to be able to find reactive slabs up to a foot deep. These will be more likely at upper elevations, and they may be forming further downslope than normal given the high speeds we are expecting. Winds this strong will likely form very stiff slabs, which may allow a person to get way out onto a slab before triggering an avalanche. Look out for the most dangerous conditions in steep terrain below ridgelines, convex rolls, and steep gullies. Pay attention to clear indications of unstable snow like shooting cracks or collapsing, and be aware of the potential for avalanches to release naturally in steep terrain above you.

Wet Loose Avalanches may be possible if the sun comes out later this weekend, and will become more likely through next week once the wind dies down and the snow surface is able to heat up a little more. Watch out for signs of deteriorating stability on southerly slopes if the sun starts poking out. This usually starts as roller balls initiating near rocks or trees where the snow heats up the fastest. If you start to notice the southerly slopes heating up, you can stay out of harm’s way by moving to shaded terrain.

Small skier-triggered wind slab avalanche on Mt. Gordon Lyon earlier this week. 03.19.2024

Additional Concern
  • 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

We are still paying attention to multiple layers of weak snow buried deeper in the snowpack. This includes a layer of weak, faceted snow buried 1-2′ deep and a weak layer of facets at the bottom of the snowpack. Although we are still able to identify these weak layers in snow pits (details from Peak 4 and The Wedge), we have not seen any avalanches failing deeper in the snowpack for several weeks. It is unlikely a person will trigger an avalanche on one of these layers this weekend, but it is still something we are monitoring so we don’t get caught off guard.


Fri, March 22nd, 2024
Weather Forecasts:

Weather Stations

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.