Chugach State Park

Fri, April 19th, 2024 - 7:00AM
Sat, April 20th, 2024 - 7:00AM
Mary Gianotti
Conditions Summary

Weekend Avalanche Outlook

Saturday, April 20th– Sunday, April 21st

Bottom Line: After a brief (but beautiful) period of amazing snow surface conditions, the wind has hit the Front Range again. A wind slab is going to be the most likely type of avalanche to encounter this weekend.  In addition to wind slabs, loose wet avalanches could also occur.  Sticking to wind-sheltered terrain is a good way to avoid wind slabs. As for loose wet avalanches, be mindful of how much the sun is melting the snow surface as things heat up this weekend.

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 the development of future avalanche forecast products. Click here if you are interested in participating in a 20-minute survey.

Avalanche Center End of Season Operations: Today is the last “Weekend Avalanche Outlook” for the season. After that we will post some “spring tips” which will be our last post before the first product next season.

Recent Avalanches

Recent Avalanches: Over the past week, we have had two observations with one observation documenting several fresh natural soft slab avalanches in the South Fork of Eagle River on April 13th. The observation notes details on one of the avalanches- the crown was 16″ inches deep and propagated 300 feet wide, running 1000 vertical feet down on a northeast aspect on a 36-degree slope angle. We also received a photo of a natural avalanche on the west face of Tanaina Peak. The date of the natural avalanche on Tanaina Peak is unknown, photo was taken on Sunday, April 14th.  We rely heavily on public observations, we always appreciate any information you all have to share. Thank you!

Natural avalanche on Tanaina Peak. Photo: Iris Walsh 4.14.24

Weather Recap: The Front Range received ~5″ of new snow last week. The majority of that snow came in last Friday. Saturday, Sunday, and Monday had light winds and mostly sunny skies. The tables turned Monday night with sustained 20 to 30 mph winds from the SE with gusts up to 65 mph that are forecast to continue throughout the weekend.

Snow depth is still variable, with bare ground to up to 11′ of snow in wind-deposited gullies.

Weather Forecast: There is a wind event today (Friday, April 19th) with sustained 20 to 35 mph winds with gusts up to 60 mph from the SE. This wind event is forecast to end this Saturday evening.  A second wind event from the SE is in the forecast for Sunday morning with sustained 15-20 mph winds with gusts up to 35 mph that will taper off by Sunday. Today (Friday, April 19th) is forecast to have mostly cloudy skies while Saturday and Sunday look partly sunny. There is no new snow in the forecast for this weekend.  Temperatures this weekend are likely to range from mid-20s to mid-30s F.

South Fork of Eagle River natural. Photo: 4.19.24

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: With the two sustained wind events in the forecast, one for Friday through Saturday and another wind event on Sunday- wind slabs will be the most likely way to trigger an avalanche this weekend.  You can reduce your exposure by sticking to wind-sheltered terrain.  Be on the lookout for shooting cracks and carefully evaluate rollover features and cross-loaded gullies. Test slopes can be a good way to see how reactive the snowpack is.

Shooting crack in South Fork of Eagle River. Photo: 4.16.24

Wind affect in Swiss Bowl. Photo: Alyssa Wu 4.16.24

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: While our snowpack is still looking “wintery”, especially at higher elevations, we did notice that the Glen Alps weather station has been recording above-freezing temperatures since midday Wednesday. Small, loose wet avalanches from the sun melting the snow surface will be likely. These are often small but do not take much to become larger on big steep slopes. The majority of the snowpack in the Front Range is full of dense wind-packed snow layers. We predict that it will take a longer period of above-freezing warmer temperatures for water to move freely throughout the whole snowpack and cause a large wet slab avalanche. If you are traveling on steep southerly aspects, be on the lookout for the warming and melting of the snow surface and loose wet avalanches.

Fri, April 19th, 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.