Seward & Southern Kenai Mtns

Archives
Issued
Fri, January 19th, 2024 - 7:00AM
Expires
Sat, January 20th, 2024 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
Mik Dalpes
Conditions Summary

Weekend Avalanche Outlook

Saturday, Jan. 20 – Sunday, Jan. 21

With a mostly sunny and calm weekend in store, triggering an avalanche will be unlikely. However, with new glide cracks noticed in the Seward zone this week we recommend watching for these “brown frowns”, avoiding them when possible, and making a safe travel plan when there is no alternate route. There is also a small chance a person could trigger an avalanche up to 1-2’ deep in old windblown snow. 

Special Announcements

Girdwood Forecaster Chat – Tonight, Friday, Jan 19th! Tonight is Andrew Schauer’s discussion on the different shades of MODERATE danger at the Girdwood Brewing Co. (6:30pm Jan 19). What does spicy moderate mean? More details HERE.

Outdoor Explorer – Thursday, Jan 25th. If you are interested in learning more about the Chugach Avalanche Center expansion and our forecast products, tune in to “Outdoor Explorer” on KSKA 91.1 on January 25 at 10AM and 8PM. It will be streamable after it airs on the Alaska Public Media Outdoor Explorer website or as an Outdoor Explorer podcast.

The Winter Rendezvous on January 27 10-1pm at the Trail Lake Lodge in Moose Pass. Forecaster Daniel Krueger will be introducing himself to the public, spreading the word about our weekend outlook in the Summit and Seward areas as well as answering any questions you have! There will be activities, food and live music as well. You can find more information about the event here!

Peninsula Powersports in Soldonta will be hosting us on Feb 8, 5-6pm. Similar to Moose Pass, this will be an opportunity for us to introduce ourselves, the weekend outlook for Summit and Seward as well as answer any questions you have. 

Chat with Chugach Avalanche Center forecasters Mik Dalpes and Daniel Krueger about the product we are publishing weekly called the “Weekend Avalanche Outlook” and the state of the snowpack in Seward, Lost Lake, and Summit Lake. We can also answer any questions people might have. 

Recent Avalanches

Recent Avalanches: There were several wind slab avalanches observed this week. Two small wind slabs were observed on January 14 on the south side of Wrong Mountain in the Carter Lake area. These were likely naturally triggered by the weather event last weekend. A few small natural cornice and wind slab avalanches were observed in the V-Max area of the Lost Lake zone that likely occurred during this week’s outflow north wind event. Mt. Eva in Seward also had a few small natural wind slab avalanches on the south facing couloirs that were noticed on January 18th. Several new glide cracks have been reported in the last week. There is one on the east facing aspect of Mt. Marathon and several cracks have opened up in the Snug Harbor area– a few on Cooper Mountain and a few on V-Max.

Weather Recap: There was a storm last weekend that brought about 2” of new snow to the Grouse Creek (Seward Highway Mile 12) weather station accompanied by southeast winds. On Sunday, January 14, there was some light rain that fell for a few hours forming a crust up to at least 1,800’. On Monday, January 15, a ridge of high pressure built over Alaska pulling cold arctic air with strong winds through the large gaps in terrain in places like Valdez, the Matanuska Valley, Anchorage, Summit Lake, and Seward. This is called an outflow wind event when there is a large pressure gradient and air is being pulled towards the ocean. This event was widespread and persisted throughout the week in Seward bringing north winds averaging 20 mph and gusting 30-50 mph.

Weather Forecast: The weather looks mild this weekend compared to the stormy season we have had so far. Saturday is forecast to be clear and calm with temperatures around 20 degrees F in the Lost Lake area cooling into the single digits F overnight. Sunday a weak system moves towards the Kenai Peninsula bringing cloudy skies and a chance for a trace of snow by the end of the day accompanied by light winds averaging 5-10 mph from the north. Temperatures look to be about 10-15 degrees F. 

Surface conditions in the Lost Lake area and flagging off Mount Ascension from the north wind outflow event. Photo: Evan Kreps 1.17.24

The crown of wind slab avalanches marked in red and glide cracks marked in blue on Mt. Eva, Seward, AK. Photo: Alex Mclain 1.18.24

Avalanche Problem 1
  • Normal Caution
    Normal Caution
Normal Caution
Normal Caution means triggering an avalanche is unlikely but not impossible.
More info at Avalanche.org

Conditions are generally stable in the Seward area, and it is unlikely that a person will trigger an avalanche this weekend. However, there are still two things we are thinking about when heading into avalanche terrain. The first is that there have been new glide cracks reported within the last week in the Seward area both in the Seward coastal mountains and the Snug Harbor area. These “brown frowns” can release at any time and take the entire season’s snowpack with them which makes them large and destructive. A few of these cracks are located in common places where people travel like the V-Max area near Snug Harbor and Mt. Eva in Seward. We recommend looking out for these cracks and avoiding travel underneath them whenever possible. If an alternate route isn’t an option we recommend making a plan, which includes identifying safe spots to stop and group up, traveling one at a time and watching the slope above as you go, and moving as efficiently as possible.

The second thing to keep in mind is that there is a small chance a person could trigger a wind slab up to 1-2’ deep from the wind event that occurred earlier in the week. Wind slabs tend to stabilize within 24-48 hours after they have formed, but there is an occasional outlier avalanche that is possible. These strong winds occurred from sea level to the ridgetops so there is likely to be many forms of wind effect (sastrugi, wind crust, smooth wind slab) anywhere above and possibly within the sheltered trees. You can assess the conditions by riding or jumping on a small test slope or digging a hand pit to see how well the wind slabs are stabilizing.

Glide cracks at V-max near Snug Harbor noted with blue. Photo: Evan Kreps 1.17.24

Weather
Fri, January 19th, 2024
Fri, January 19th, 2024

Weather Forecast Links:

NWS Point Forecast: Point forecast near Lost Lake.

NWS Avalanche Weather Guidance (AVG) forecast page: Zoom into the Anchorage bowl for special detailed winter forecast.

Windy.com Spot Forecast: Spot forecast for Lost Lake. (tip: scroll through models using the links at the bottom of the page, and change locations by clicking on the map).

Weather Stations

Grouse Creek Divide Snotel

Lost Lake Weather Station

Observations
Recent Observations for Seward & Southern Kenai Mtns
Date Region Location
04/16/24 Seward Observation: Lost Lake
04/10/24 Seward Observation: Lost Lake
04/03/24 Seward Observation: Snug Harbor
03/31/24 Seward Avalanche: Lost Lake
03/27/24 Seward Avalanche: Tiehacker Mountain
03/14/24 Seward Observation: Lost Lake via Snug Harbor
03/06/24 Seward Observation: Carter Lake
03/03/24 Seward Observation: Victor Creek, 1k – 1.6k elevation
02/29/24 Seward Observation: Carter Lake
02/26/24 Seward Avalanche: Mt Marathon
Riding Areas

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This is a general backcountry conditions summary. This advisory does not apply to highways, railroads or operating ski areas.