Chugach State Park

Fri, March 29th, 2024 - 7:00AM
Sat, March 30th, 2024 - 7:00AM
Mary Gianotti
Conditions Summary

Weekend Avalanche Outlook

Saturday, March 30th – Sunday, March 31st

Bottom Line: With a High Wind Watch in the forecast for the Anchorage area, dangerous avalanche conditions are expected for the Front Range this weekend.  Two wind events are in the forecast bringing sustained 30-50 mph winds with gusts up to 75 mph from the southeast. We have between 3″-5″ of previous snow available for transport and between 2″ to 10″ of new snow possible for this weekend.  With winds this strong, both natural and human-triggered avalanches will be likely.

Special Announcements

Avalanche Forecast Survey: Simon Fraser University is collaborating with US avalanche centers to better understand how useful avalanche forecast information is for trip planning. This research will help drive development of future avalanche forecast products. Click here if you are interested in participating in a 20 minute survey.

Recent Avalanches

Recent Avalanches: Over the past week, we have had five observations with one observation documenting small to large natural dry loose avalanches, several cornice falls, and small to large natural wet loose avalanches along the southerly aspect of Hanging Valley in the South Fork of Eagle River. We rely heavily on public observations, we always appreciate any information you all have to share.  Thank you!

Weather Recap: From Friday to Tuesday, the Front Range had sustained ridgetop winds predominately from the SSE between 12 to 25 mph with little to no precipitation. That pattern changed midweek, between 3″-5″ of new snow came in Wednesday and Thursday with light variable winds. Temperatures this week ranged from 20F to 40F with an average of around 32F.

The 3-5″ of new snow on top of a supportable crust improved snow surface riding conditions on Wednesday and Thursday.  We are right on the brink of spring and have been having trending warmer temperatures. It is not a bad idea to start tracking surface conditions on southerly slopes that may start to form melt-freeze crusts.

Weather Forecast: As mentioned in the bottom line, the big concern this weekend is the High Wind Watch issued for Anchorage Hillside and the western Turnagain Arm. Two separate systems are forecast to hit the Front Range. The first event is forecast to start today (Friday) and is expected to be weaker (sustained 30 to 40 mph winds from the SE with gusts up to 55 mph) than the stronger system that will move into Southcentral late Saturday and taper off early Sunday morning. The second system is forecast to bring sustained 30 to 50 mph winds from the SSE with gusts up to 75 mph. Along with the two major wind events, 2″ to 10″ of new snow is predicted for this weekend.

Wind scoured North Bowl. Photo: 3.26.24

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: The wind events in the forecast for this weekend are more significant than the normal Front Range wind events (and the Front Range gets a lot of wind). Winds slab avalanches are the main concern going into this weekend. There is roughly 3″ to 5″ of previous snow available for transport. The size of avalanches and the likelihood of avalanches will depend on how much new snow comes in with the two major wind events. Avoiding steep wind loaded terrain will be essential this weekend. There is a good chance for natural activity this weekend, so be sure to pay attention to steep slopes overhead and limit time spent in avalanche runout zones.

High Wind Watch for the Anchorage area this weekend. Photo: Alaska News Source 3.29.24

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

Persistent Slabs: We are still paying close attention to a layer of near-surface facets roughly ~13″ down from the snow surface at higher elevations (elevations above 3,500′) and have been tracking a weak layer of facets at the bottom of the snowpack. We have been getting consistent test results on the near-surface facet layer, however, we have not seen any avalanches failing deeper in the snowpack for over a month at this point. The likelihood of someone triggering an avalanche on one of these layers is low, but it is still something we are monitoring and keeping on our radar, especially with the loading events coming in this weekend.

Snowpack structure at higher elevations in South Fork of Eagle River. Photo: 3.26.24


Fri, March 29th, 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.