Summit & Central Kenai Mtns

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

Weekend Avalanche Outlook

Saturday, Jan. 20 – Sunday, Jan. 21

Bottom Line: A sunny yet chilly weekend is forecast and although triggering an avalanche is unlikely, there are naturally occurring glide avalanches in the area. Glide cracks continue to release all along Summit Pass causing large and destructive avalanches. These avalanches are occurring in a few areas where people are recreating and are releasing to lower angle terrain. Be aware of glide cracks on slopes above you and minimize time spent under them. 

Special Announcements

Our outreach events are ramping up in Moose Pass, Soldotna, and Seward! 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. 

Moose Pass: Winter Rendezvous on January 27 All Day. CNFAC event 10-1pm at the Trail Lake Lodge.

Soldotna: Peninsula Powersports in Soldotna will be hosting us on February 8, 5-6pm. 

Here is a map showing snowmachine access in Summit Pass. This is a great tool to better understand and travel in areas open to snowmachining. You can also download it to your phone to use in the field.  

Recent Avalanches

Recent Avalanches: Glide cracks continue to be opening and causing avalanches throughout the Summit area. These have been seen in the past 7 days on Summit Peak, South Gilpatrick Peak, Spirit Walker, Tri-Tip and Fresno Peak. Otherwise, several natural wind slab avalanches triggered from high winds last week were seen on Butch Peak, Tenderfoot, and Tri-Tip. A large crown was observed on Tri-Tips north face. From the size of the crown and debris this may have failed on a buried weak layer. 

Weather Recap: Little to no new snow fell in Summit last weekend. For the rest of the week, a high pressure air mass created sunny skies and cold temperatures in the negatives to mid teens in valley bottoms. Temperatures along ridgelines have been in the 20s F. On Tuesday and Wednesday outflow winds, out of the north, blew up to 80 mph,

Weather Forecast: The high pressure system over the region is expected to continue to bring mostly clear skies and no expected new snow. Some clouds may move in on Sunday morning with patches of sunshine. Light and variable winds are expected Saturday. Easterly winds are expected on Sunday averaging 5-10 with the possibility of 15 mph winds on the ridges. Temperatures over the weekend look to be in the negatives in the morning to mid teens in the afternoon with Sunday being a bit colder in the morning. A temperature inversion may continue to create slightly warmer temperatures at higher elevations.

Two natural avalanches likely from the wind event on 1.17 and a glide avalanche probably releasing the night of 1.17 on Tri-Tip.  Photo by Paul Wunnicke 1.18.2024

 

Avalanche Problem 1
  • Glide Avalanches
    Glide Avalanches
Glide Avalanches
Glide Avalanches are the release of the entire snow cover as a result of gliding over the ground. Glide avalanches can be composed of wet, moist, or almost entirely dry snow. They typically occur in very specific paths, where the slope is steep enough and the ground surface is relatively smooth. They are often proceeded by full depth cracks (glide cracks), though the time between the appearance of a crack and an avalanche can vary between seconds and months. Glide avalanches are unlikely to be triggered by a person, are nearly impossible to forecast, and thus pose a hazard that is extremely difficult to manage.
More info at Avalanche.org

New glide cracks and glide avalanches are being reported on a regular basis all across the Summit Pass area. There is a glide avalanche on Fresno that is very close to where people recreate. Also, a glide avalanche on Tri-Tip released in what appears to be a lower slope angle than what we have seen. The point is that glide avalanches are now occurring on aspects and slope angles in places where people are recreating. 

It is important to minimize exposure under these glide cracks because they are very large, release spontaneously, and can send debris to lower angle terrain. It can also be hard to see old glide cracks when they get buried by fresh or wind deposited snow.  If you are unsure where glide cracks are, choose routes that minimize overhead hazard and pick safe spots carefully, spending as little time as possible under steep terrain. 

Other than the glide avalanche issue, there could be some old stubborn wind slabs on steep wind loaded features. Soft pockets of snow may be hard to find as last week’s winds replaced soft snow with firm wind affected snow on any aspect not protected by the wind.  Look for red flags such as shooting cracks from underneath you and stiff hollow feeling snow. Even though triggering an avalanche is unlikely, it’s good to practice safe travel protocols, such as exposing one person at a time, watching your partners from safe zones, and having escape routes in mind. 

Glide avalanche releasing on 1.14 on Fresno which is just to the right of where a lot of people recreate. 1.15.2024

 

Winds removing snow to bare ground (windward slope) and depositing snow into fresh wind slabs (leeward slopes) 1.16.2024

 

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 Avalanche.org

Facets above and below the Thanksgiving crust and weak facets buried at the ground are two layers we are keeping our eye on. In the past several weeks there have been no known avalanches on these weak layers. However, the avalanche pictured below looks to be deep enough that it may have released on a buried weak layer. Areas that we are watching include higher elevations and shallower snowpacks. These layers are not likely to cause an avalanche, but if heading into steep big terrain it is something to keep in mind. 

Avalanche on the north face of Tri-Tip suspected to of released 1.14. Photo by Evan Kreps 1.15.2024

 

Weather
Fri, January 19th, 2024
Weather Forecasts

NWS Point Forecast: Point forecast for the Summit Lake area.

NWS Avalanche Weather Guidance (AVG) forecast page: Mountain weather forecasts for the region. Zoom in on the map to find point forecasts for Summit.

Windy.com Spot Forecast: Spot forecast for Summit (tip: compare models using the links at the bottom of the page).

 

Weather Stations

Summit Creek Snotel

AK DOT&PF Summit Lake Weather Station 

AKRR Ridgetop Weather Station

Observations
Recent Observations for Summit & Central Kenai Mtns
Date Region Location
04/10/24 Summit Observation: Manitoba
04/10/24 Summit Observation: Colorado
04/07/24 Summit Observation: Fresno
04/06/24 Summit Observation: Tenderfoot
04/04/24 Summit Observation: Gilpatrick North
03/27/24 Summit Observation: Colorado
03/24/24 Summit Observation: Near Tern Lake and Near Sixmile Creek
03/21/24 Summit Avalanche: Manitoba
03/21/24 Summit Avalanche: Summit eastside
03/21/24 Summit Observation: Johnson South
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.