Summit & Central Kenai Mtns

Archives
Issued
Fri, April 12th, 2024 - 7:00AM
Expires
Sat, April 13th, 2024 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
Daniel Krueger
Conditions Summary

Weekend Avalanche Outlook

Saturday, April 13 – Sunday, April 14

Bottom Line: This weekend looks to have partly sunny skies with light winds that could make wet loose avalanches possible on steep sunny slopes. This problem could increase if the snow quickly warms up on the surface and can be avoided by riding sunny slopes earlier in the day. Small wind slabs are also possible in upper elevations on steep wind loaded slopes. These may be lingering over a crust making them easier to trigger.

Special Announcements

How Useful is an Avalanche Forecast?
Simon Fraser University is collaborating with US avalanche centers to better understand how useful avalanche information is for planning your backcountry day. Please consider participating in this nationwide survey. It takes around 20 minutes. This research will help drive development of future avalanche forecast products. Thank you!

Avalanche Center End of Season Operations: Next Friday, April 19 will be 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: On Saturday, April 6, a large avalanche on Moose mountain’s northwest face was seen, likely releasing as a wind slab on April 5th. We also saw a few shallow slabs on Gilpatrick’s southeast face that may have released on April 9. Numerous small wet loose avalanches have been seen on steep south and east faces below rocks over the past week.

Weather Recap: Last weekend’s weather had partly sunny skies and spring like temperatures with highs in the 40s in the late afternoon. On Monday east winds increased to 40+ mph on ridgetops as a brief storm arrived on Tuesday bringing 2 to 5″ of new snow to Summit. Thursday into Friday also delivered another few inches of new snow accompanied by 30+ mph winds out of the south that decreased Friday afternoon averaging 0 to 10mph.

Weather Forecast: The lingering storm on Friday that brought around 4″ of snow to Summit is expected to move east over the weekend, making way for sunshine, lighter winds out of the west, and cooler temperatures. On Saturday, cloudy skies and valley clouds should begin breaking up allowing for pockets of sunshine in the afternoon. Winds out of the northwest should be light (0 to 10 mph) with 15 mph gusts on ridges and slightly cooler temperatures ranging from low 20s to low 30s. Expect similar conditions on Sunday with more sunshine, light winds from the northwest (0 to 10 mph) and temperatures ranging from 20s t0 low 30s F.

 

Avalanche Problem 1
  • 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 Avalanche.org

Partly sunny skies are forecast over the weekend which typically increases the chance of triggering wet loose avalanches on steep east, south, and west facing slopes. If temperatures are on the cooler side and there is a light breeze it may be less likely for a human to trigger one of these. On the flip side if the snow heats up it can become more likely if conditions feel warm and “spring like”. If you are overheating while skinning or snowmachining, chances are the snow is too. These can be large enough to push you into trees and possibly bury a person if they are carried into a terrain trap. Riding in the spring is all about timing. It is safer to ride steep sunny slopes in the morning and avoid them during the hottest part of the day (between 3 to 5 pm). You can also choose to ride north facing slopes that are shaded from the sun to avoid this issue.

Wind Slabs: There is a small chance that lingering winds slabs, up to 1′ deep could be triggered on steep, wind loaded slopes. If you are recreating in terrain such as gullies, below ridgelines, and underneath rollovers be on the lookout for wind slabs. Clues such as shooting cracks and traveling on firm snow over soft snow can indicate you are on a wind loaded slope.

Persistent Slab: There is still a small chance that one of several buried weak layers could trigger an avalanche up to 12″ deep. There have been a few small(ish) natural avalanches that likely failed on a weak layer over the past 2 weeks at mid elevations in Summit. Although we feel it is less likely for a human to trigger one of these, ride one at a time, use safe zones and have planned escape routes if you choose to ride steep terrain over the weekend. Hand pit tests can also provide information on snowpack stability in the upper snowpack. If we get a big warmup in the future, these may become more of an issue.

Old wet loose avalanches on Wilson Mtn’s south face. These likely released around April 6 when temperatures at the parking lot were in the 40’s. Photo 4.10.2024

 

Weather
Fri, April 12th, 2024
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
05/05/24 Summit Avalanche: Manitoba and Surrounding Areas
04/25/24 Summit Observation: Road Survey – Seward Highway Tern Lake to Portage
04/23/24 Summit Avalanche: Tenderfoot
04/20/24 Summit Observation: Tenderfoot
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
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.