Seward & Southern Kenai Mtns

Archives
Issued
Fri, December 15th, 2023 - 7:00AM
Expires
Sat, December 16th, 2023 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
CNFAIC Staff
Conditions Summary

Weekend Avalanche Outlook

Saturday, Dec. 16- Sunday, Dec. 17

Avalanches concerns this weekend in the Seward, Lost Lake, and Snug Harbor areas are expected to be associated with the new snow that falls on Friday and Saturday. Up to a foot of snow could accumulate by Saturday night at elevations above 1,000′. The snow will be accompanied by strong southeasterly winds above treeline. If the storm verifies, slab avalanches between 1-2′ deep could be easily triggered on slopes over 30 degrees. Wind loaded slopes will be the most dangerous and likely harbor the largest slabs. Below 1,000′, rain is forecast for Saturday. Rain on snow could create some small wet avalanches and possibly roof avalanches in town.

If you are headed this way, keep an eye on how much new snow has fallen and look for Red Flags (recent avalanches and cracks that shoot out from you and/or your machine. Snap a photo and send us your reports! We are trying to gather as much intel as possible for this zone.

Special Announcements

Motorized Areas:  All areas of the Seward Ranger District are open for snowmachine use.

Recent Avalanches

Active weather over the past week has kept much of the Seward area mountains in the clouds. Therefore, there is minimal information on recent avalanche activity. What we do know is a warm storm on Dec 10-11 brought snow and rain to Seward and just snow to elevations above 1,000′. Around 8″ of wet snow with periods of rain fell at sea level (2″ Water Equivalent) with an estimated 16-20″ of snow in the higher elevations. On Dec 14th a natural slab avalanche was reported on the west side of Mt Alice, seen from a distance.

 

Data from the Grouse Creek SNOTEL station (700′ in elevation) that is near the Mile Post 12 Divide AKDOT RWIS station on the Seward Highway.

Avalanche Problem 1
  • Storm Slabs
    Storm Slabs
Storm Slabs
Storm Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer (a slab) of new snow that breaks within new snow or on the old snow surface. Storm-slabs typically last between a few hours and few days (following snowfall). Storm-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

This weekend it’s all about the weather. The more snow that falls, the more the avalanche danger will rise. If the storms slated for Friday and Saturday only produce 6″ or so, then it will be winds to watch out for. Even with low new snow amounts, the winds can build fresh wind slabs quickly. Steering clear of slopes steep enough to slide (30 degrees or more) that the winds have loaded with snow, will be a good bet to avoid a wind slab avalanche.

Areas out of the wind, for example in the trees, may also see some avalanche activity if over a foot of snow falls. These storm slab and loose snow types of avalanches may be small, but can be quite dangerous if they push us into a tree well or cover us up in a narrow creek bed. All things to watch out for in stormy weather.

NOTE that the rain/snow line is forecast to creep up to 1,000′ on Saturday, so wet snow conditions can be expected at the lower elevations.

Current Total Snowpack Depths as of noon Friday, Dec 15:
Grouse Creek at 700′: 34″
Cooper Lake at 1200′: 40″

As of this writing it’s midday on Friday, Dec 15, and the snow is just starting. The photo below is from the AKDOT RWIS camera at Mile Post 12 on the Seward Highway.

Weather
Fri, December 15th, 2023
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.