Seward & Southern Kenai Mtns

Archives
Issued
Fri, December 1st, 2023 - 7:00AM
Expires
Sat, December 2nd, 2023 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
Mik Dalpes
Conditions Summary

Weekend Avalanche Outlook

Saturday, Dec. 2- Sunday, Dec. 3

Welcome to the first Weekend Outlook for the Seward Zone of the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Center!  We are about 24 hours out from a big storm that dropped 2 feet of snow in the Seward alpine Wednesday and Thursday.  There is a lot of new snow available to be blown into fresh wind slabs 1-2′ or deeper. The best way to avoid this problem is to watch what the wind is doing and stay away from the slopes that have been recently loaded.

Special Announcements

New Avalanche Outlook Products for the Central and Southern Kenai!

Last spring the Chugach National Forest’s Seward Ranger District made a commitment to improving avalanche awareness and information for the Kenai Mountains. Over the past 10 years the majority of avalanche accidents on the Chugach National Forest have occurred on this District. In response, and in an effort for increasing public safety, two new avalanche specialist positions were created and recently hired. Woot! This season’s missions will be issuing ‘weekend avalanche outlooks’ for the central and southern Kenai Mtns (Summit/Seward), hosting free public awareness clinics, and upgrading weather stations.

Coming soon we will be hosting some events on the Kenai so check back here for those times and locations.

Recent Avalanches

The last observed avalanches were today, Friday, December 1.  These avalanches were naturally triggered wet loose, from steep slopes in the 2,500′-3,000′ elevation zone and likely released during the stormy weather over the past two days.  With temps cooling off we don’t expect to see wet loose over the weekend and into next week.

Winter started with a bang dropping just under 2 feet of snow at the Grouse Creek Divide (mile 12) weather station on November 9 and 10.  The next big storm event occurred at Thanksgiving lasting through last weekend.  This storm was, unfortunately, very warm and it rained up to at least 3,000-4,000′ in places.  The most recent storm came this last Wednesday-Thursday.  This storm was colder and dropped 2 feet of snow above about 1,000′ with strong easterly winds.  The snow line was much lower, hovering around 100-400′.

It looks like we are going to get a little break from the monster storms we’ve experienced in the last week or so.  It looks to be partly to mostly cloudy through the weekend with a chance for light precipitation Saturday.  Temperatures look like they will be cold enough for this to fall as snow with up to 1″ possible. The winds are going to blow 10-20mph in the alpine through the weekend.

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 Avalanche.org

Winter is here and the storms keep coming!  With 2 feet of fresh snow in the last 2 days and moderate winds through the weekend, the wind will be moving the snow around creating fresh wind slabs in the alpine.  The signs of a wind slab are stiff snow over softer snow and cracks that shoot out from your snowmachine, skis, or board.  Wind slabs can be found on any aspect of the upper elevations.  Watch for wind blowing the snow off ridges and peaks and depositing it in specific places like the leeward side of ridges and gullies.  Avoid traveling in or under those areas that look loaded.  Fresh wind slabs can be easy to trigger for the first 24-48 hours after they form and will be big enough to injure a person or potentially bury a person and a snowmachine.

We don’t have any information about the snowpack in the Seward area except the observation from Carter Lake we posted yesterday, which can be found HERE.  If you are getting out in the mountains in the Seward area this weekend it will be really important to do your own snowpack assessment.  Watch for red flags, which include strong wind blowing snow to a specific place, cracks shooting out from you, and the feel and sound of the snowpack collapsing beneath you.  The absence of these red flags doesn’t mean you are good to go, it might mean that the snowpack isn’t as sensitive to easy triggers, or that you haven’t found the exact spot where you could trigger an avalanche.

View to the north of Carter Lake.  11.30.23

 

Snowpack at 1,550′ at Carter Lake.  11.30.23

Carter Lake Trailhead.  11.30.23

 

There were a few water crossings on the lower portion of the Carter Lake Trail.  11.30.23

 

 

Weather
Fri, December 1st, 2023

Weather Forecasts

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

The riding areas page has moved. Please click here & update your bookmarks.


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