|Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
|Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
|Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding, and conservative decision-making essential.
|Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended.
|Extraordinarily dangerous avalanche conditions. Avoid all avalanche terrain.
|Likelihood of Avalanches
|Natural and human-triggered avalanches unlikely.
|Natural avalanches unlikely; human-triggered avalanches possible.
|Natural avalanches possible; human-triggered avalanches likely.
|Natural avalanches likely; human-triggered avalanches very likely.
|Natural and human-triggered avalanches certain.
|Avalanche Size and Distribution
|Small avalanches in isolated areas or extreme terrain.
|Small avalanches in specific areas; or large avalanches in isolated areas.
|Small avalanches in many areas; or large avalanches in specific areas; or very large avalanches in isolated areas.
|Large avalanches in many areas; or very large avalanches in specific areas.
|Very large avalanches in many areas.
A skier triggered a large avalanche on the northwest aspect of Tincan Proper yesterday afternoon as he was bootpacking up to the summit. Luckily he was able to get off the slab to avoid being carried down to the valley 2000′ below. The avalanche was 2-5′ deep and likely failed on facets above the New Year’s crust. The slope had been getting loaded by strong winds during the day yesterday. See this observation for more details.
The group standing just below the crown of a large human-triggered avalanche on Tincan Proper. The avalanche was 2-5′ deep and failed on a weak layer of facets on top of the New Year’s crust. Photo submitted anonymously. 01.20.2022
|Size (D scale)
|Unlikely to bury a person
|Can bury a person
|Can destroy a house
|4 & 5
|Can destroy part or all of a village
Very dangerous avalanche conditions exist as strong winds, snow, and rain continue in our area through the day today. Easterly winds began picking up yesterday afternoon and continued last night, with sustained speeds of 40-60 mph and gusts up to 97 mph last night through this morning. 24-hour snow totals by the end of the day are expected to be around 8-10″ in Girdwood, 4-8″ in Turnagain Pass, and 8-12″ near Portage and Placer. This new snow is falling on top of close to a foot of soft snow that was already on the ground, which means there is plenty of ammunition for the strong winds to build large and sensitive slabs. We expect to see very dangerous avalanche conditions today along with this active weather, with large human-triggered avalanches very likely and natural avalanches likely in the alpine. Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended above 2500′.
Conditions will still be dangerous at and below treeline, but slightly weaker winds and lower storm totals mean avalanches will be slightly smaller (around 1-3′ deep), and slightly less reactive. If you plan on throwing on the Gore-Tex and getting out in the trees during the storm today, be cautious with your terrain choices. Avoid traveling on or below steep slopes, and be very aware of the potential for large natural avalanches releasing in upper-elevation start zones above you and running into lower elevations. Warming temperatures as this storm progresses mean dense snow is falling on top of colder, drier snow. Expect to find upside-down storm slabs, which will be sensitive on sheltered slopes as well as those being actively wind loaded. With modest storm totals, these avalanches may not be as large, but they can still be dangerous if they catch you off guard.
Yesterday’s human-triggered avalanche on Tincan Proper is a scary and somewhat surprising reminder that there may still be some more concerning deeper weak layers lurking on isolated slopes. This layer will be tested as wind and snow continue to load the snowpack today. Most of our observations have been indicating that it is unlikely we will see activity on this layer, but yesterday’s avalanche should not be ignored. This means that in addition to large avalanches failing in fresh wind slabs forming today, there is an outside chance we may see some very large avalanches failing on the deeper weak snow on top of the New Year’s crust. Given the dangerous conditions already mentioned above, this issue does not really impact our travel advice, but it is one more thing to be aware of.
Loose Wet Avalanches: And now for the news that nobody wants to hear- rain levels are expected to creep up to around 2200-2400′ as temperatures hang in the low to mid 30’s F today. As rain saturates the snow at the mid- and lower elevations, it is likely we will see some loose wet avalanches up to 2400′.
Cornice Fall: Strong winds have been building large and sensitive cornices. If you are traveling near ridgelines, be careful to give cornices plenty of space. Keep in mind they are notorious for breaking farther back than people expect. Take a look at this observation from Goldpan for details from a scary encounter with a cornice fall on Sunday.
Winds starting to load start zones near the ridgeline at the top of Super Bowl yesterday afternoon. These strong winds have continued overnight and are expected to hang around through the day, which means wind slabs will get larger and more sensitive. 01.20.2022
Large avalanche triggered by a skier hiking along the Tincan ridgeline yesterday. This avalanche failed on facets above the New Year’s crust, which we had thought had become unreactive. Time will tell whether this is an outlier event or a sign of more activity to come, but for today this is just one more reason to avoid travel in avalanche terrain in the alpine. Photo: Andy Moderow. 01.20.2022
Click Here for a link to a video describing snow conditions ahead of the storm yesterday afternoon:
Yesterday: Yesterday morning saw partly cloudy skies, light westerly winds, and temperatures in the upper teens to 20 F. Cloud cover increased during the day, with overcast skies in the afternoon. Winds shifted easterly and started increasing in the afternoon, with sustained speeds of 40-60 mph overnight and gusts as high as 97 mph by this morning. As of 6:00 this morning, 2-5″ of snow has fallen so far. Temperatures have been on a steady climb since yesterday morning, with current temperatures right around 30 F.
Today: Winds are expected to persist at 20-35 mph with gusts of 40-55 mph out of the southeast. Another 2-6″ snow is expected to fall in Girdwood and Turnagain pass, with 8-10″ in Portage and Placer. Rain is expected to make it up to 2200-2400′. Temperatures are expected to hang in the low to mid 30’s F.
Tomorrow: Snow showers are expected to continue overnight, with another 1-2″ at Turnagain Pass, 4-6″ near Girdwood, and 6-8″ near Portage and Placer. The rain line is expected to linger around 2200′. Winds should ease slightly, with sustained speeds of 15-20 mph and gusts of 30-40 mph. Another significant round of snow and rain is expected to follow this system, moving in late Sunday through Monday.
PRECIPITATION 24-hour data (6am – 6am)
|Temp Avg (F)
|Snow Depth (in)
|Center Ridge (1880′)
|Summit Lake (1400′)
|Alyeska Mid (1700′)
RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)
|Temp Avg (F)
|Wind Avg (mph)
|Wind Gust (mph)
|Seattle Ridge (2400′)
|Avalanche: Base of Seattle Ridge
|Troy Tempel, Thomas Lees, .Josh Bollaert, Damian Naquin
|Observation: Lynx creek
|Observation: Tincan Trees
|Moderow / Clayton
|Observation: Turnagain (below the uptrack)
|Alaska Avalanche School Moto Level 2
|John Sykes Forecaster
|Observation: Tincan Backdoor, Center Ridge
|AAS Level 1 / R Sullivan
|Avalanche: Tincan Trees
|Schauer/ Moderow/ Stephenson Forecaster
|Schauer/ Moderow/ Clayton Forecaster