Chugach State Park

Fri, April 5th, 2024 - 7:00AM
Sat, April 6th, 2024 - 7:00AM
Mary Gianotti
Conditions Summary

Weekend Avalanche Outlook

Saturday, April 6th– Sunday, April 7th

Bottom Line: Wind slabs are going to be the most likely way to trigger an avalanche this weekend. We have 5″-7″ of new snow forecast with several inches of previous snow available for transport.  There are two wind events, the larger event is Saturday night into Sunday morning with sustained 10 to 25 mph with gusts up to 40 mph from the southeast. On a different note, we are also at that time of year when wet loose avalanches could start to be a problem if temperatures start to warm up. If the sun does come out, the first warning signs of wet avalanches will be rollerballs or pinwheels rolling down southerly slopes. If you start to see that kind of activity, we recommend moving to shaded terrain.

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 six observations with one observation documenting small to large old wet avalanches in Falls Creek. The date of the avalanche occurrences is unknown. We rely heavily on public observations, we always appreciate any information you all have to share. Thank you!

Weather Recap: There was a significant wind event last weekend with sustained 30-50 mph winds with gusts up to 70 mph from the southeast. The Front Range received roughly 7″ of new snow, the majority of which came in Saturday and Sunday. Temperatures this week ranged from 10F to 41F with an average of around 25F.

The new snow this week improved riding conditions. Snow depth in the Front Range is still variable from bare ground to over 11′ of snow in wind-deposited gullies. Even though it might not feel like spring right now, we still have been seeing trending warmer temperatures. It is not a bad idea to track surface conditions on southerly slopes.

Weather Forecast: Tonight and Saturday look like mostly overcast skies with 5″-7″ of new snow. The clouds look like they clear off most of the day on Sunday.  There are two wind events in the forecast this weekend. The first is tonight (Friday, April 5th) with sustained 10 mph winds with gusts up to 25 mph from the northwest. The second wind event is forecast to come in Saturday afternoon tapering off Sunday morning with sustained 10 to 25 mph winds with gusts up to 40 mph from the southeast. Temperatures are forecast to range from mid-teens to mid-thirties Fahrenheit.

View of the Ramp from Peak 4. Photo: 4.3.24

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 Front Range is staying true to itself and its avalanche problems this weekend with wind slab avalanches as the number one concern. 5″-7″ of new snow is in the forecast this weekend. There are several inches of previous snow available for transport. As mentioned in the bottom line, there are two wind events, one coming in tonight with sustained 10 mph winds with gusts up to 25 mph from the northwest. The larger wind event in the forecast is Saturday evening into Sunday morning with sustained 10 to 25 mph winds with gusts up to 40 mph from the southeast. Depending on how much new snow comes in, the size and likelihood of the avalanches could vary. The wind slabs will most likely be at upper elevations. This may feel a bit redundant at this point, but carefully evaluate cross-loaded gullies, and rollover features, and be on the lookout for shooting cracks. Finding small test slopes is a good way to see whether wind slabs are reactive to human triggers.

Wind-scoured Front Range. Photo: 4.03.24

Avalanche Problem 2
  • Wet Loose
    Wet Loose
Wet Loose
Wet Loose avalanches are the release of wet unconsolidated snow or slush. These avalanches typically occur within layers of wet snow near the surface of the snowpack, but they may quickly gouge into lower snowpack layers. Like Loose Dry Avalanches, they start at a point and entrain snow as they move downhill, forming a fan-shaped avalanche. Other names for loose-wet avalanches include point-release avalanches or sluffs. Loose Wet avalanches can trigger slab avalanches that break into deeper snow layers.
More info at

Loose Wet: It is April right now, and we are right on the brink of transitioning from a winter snowpack to a springtime snowpack, especially at lower elevations. We saw some evidence of this happening already on our field day at Falls Creek.  Sunday is looking like the day this weekend with a lot of direct sunlight and minimal wind.  We recommend monitoring surface conditions when on a southerly aspect. The first sign of deteriorating conditions will be rollerballs or pinwheels (small chunks of snow picking up more snow while rolling down steep terrain). If you notice that kind of activity, we recommend moving to shaded terrain.

Old wet loose debris pile at Falls Creek. Photo: 4.04.24

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 monitoring a couple of different layers in the snowpack, one is a layer of near-surface facets ~1.5″ down from the snow surface at higher elevations and we have been tracking a weak layer of facets at the bottom of the snowpack was well. We have not been getting concerning test results on these layers over the past week, the likelihood of someone triggering an avalanche on one of these layers is low, but still, something we want to pay attention to. If you are skiing off the Seward Highway, the other layer we want to mention is a thin layer of facets above a melt-freeze crust roughly ~8″ down from the snow surface. We found concerning test results on this layer on our field day in Falls Creek. Falls Creek is on the outskirts of our forecast area and is not representative of what is going on in the majority of the Chugach State Park. However, we wanted to highlight this in case anyone is heading that way this weekend.

Snowpack structure in Falls Creek. Photo: 4.04.24

Snowpack structure at 4,000′ at Peak 4. Photo: 4.3.24

Fri, April 5th, 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.