Good morning backcountry travelers this is Jon Gellings with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Monday, January 31st at 7am. This will serve as a general backcountry avalanche advisory issued for Turnagain Arm with Turnagain Pass as the core advisory area (this advisory does not apply to highways, railroads, or operating ski areas).
The Friends of the CNFAIC (FCNFAIC) needs your thoughts! With a new staff of forecasters and a list of previously completed goals, the program is growing and potentially heading in new directions. The FCNFAIC wants to know what you have to say about YOUR avalanche center, so please complete the following anonymous survey by February 20th. All information gathered will be discarded after that time. You do not need to answer all the questions, but the more complete the survey is, the better the data will be. This survey will be located here for a week, and will then be relocated to the bottom of the advisory for the remainder of the open period. Thank you in advance for taking it!
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Today the avalanche hazard is CONSIDERABLE. Winds have been increasing to Strong Gale force, and coupled with new snow amounts of 5″ as of 6AM at 1800ft, new wind slabs have become prevalent across our area. Based on lots of recent human triggered avalanches, human triggered avalanches are likely in many areas, more than just pockets. Read on for more information.
We checked out the avalanche on Butch Mtn yesterday, and determined that it broke in the December snow. The avalanche was 300-400 feet wide, 1-3 feet deep, and dropped about 800 vertical feet.
Thanks to numerous agencies and volunteers involved in the rescue efforts, which supported a positive final outcome.
We have also received pit information from groups on Eddies and on Lipps that have showed high energy breaks above both the New Years Crust and above the Thanksgiving Rain Crust. Looking for instabilities will help you make better decisions, even if you decide to turn around and not travel in steeper terrain today.
We have widespread instabilities out there. In lower elevations up to ~1400ft, we have large amounts of buried surface hoar. Above this area in mid-elevation slopes, we have facets, crusts, and occasionally buried surface hoar. In upper elevations, we have new wind slabs, facets, crusts, and many near-surface trigger points. No slope is absolutely safe, so try to hedge your bets toward safer slopes that are not super exposed to potential hazards.
CNFAIC Staff events of the last 3 days: A skier triggered on Goldpan/Superbowl/Bertha Creek, a snowmachine triggered in Main Bowl, a skier triggered in Main Bowl, a skier triggered on Seattle ridge across from Magnum (reported as up to 8 feet deep), a snowmachine triggered in Carter lake with significant damage to the sled. Also the full burial in Lost Lake on Monday. That brings the total this week to 10 people reportedly triggering or caught in avalanches.
Please play safely out there. There are numerous instabilities out there, and they are potentially hard to find. You do not want to be the one to find them either, especially if you are skiing or snowmachining in a large exposed area when it shows itself.
Encyclopedia of avalanche terms.
Temperatures are increasing, and rain is in the forecast for this afternoon. Winds are howling up top, which are easily transporting large amounts of snow. Precipitation is happening, with 1.56″ SWE in the forecast for the next 24hrs. The radar is showing heavy amounts of precipitation in Prince William Sound, which is heading in our direction.
I will issue the next advisory tomorrow morning at 7am. If you get out in the backcountry give us a call at 754-2369 or send us your observations using the button at the top of this page. Thanks and have a great day.
The NWS weather forecast for:
WESTERN PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND-
500 AM AKST MON JAN 31 2011
…STRONG WIND THROUGH THIS MORNING THROUGH PORTAGE VALLEY AND
.TODAY…SNOW IN THE MORNING…THEN ISOLATED RAIN AND SNOW SHOWERS IN
THE AFTERNOON. AREAS OF BLOWING SNOW WILL OCCASIONALLY REDUCE
VISIBILITIES TO UNDER ONE MILE DURING THE MORNING. SNOW ACCUMULATION
3 TO 5 INCHES. HIGHS IN THE 30S. SOUTHEAST WIND 20 TO 30 MPH BECOMING
EAST 10 TO 15 MPH IN THE AFTERNOON. THROUGH PORTAGE VALLEY AND
TURNAGAIN ARM…SOUTHEAST WIND 30 TO 45 MPH DIMINISHING TO THE EAST
20 TO 30 MPH IN THE AFTERNOON.
.TONIGHT…SNOW. SNOW ACCUMULATION 5 TO 7 INCHES. LOWS AROUND 30.
VARIABLE WIND 10 MPH. NEAR SEWARD…NORTH WIND 15 TO 25 MPH
DECREASING TO 10 TO 20 MPH AFTER MIDNIGHT.
.TUESDAY…SNOW IN THE MORNING…THEN SNOW AND RAIN IN THE
AFTERNOON. SNOW ACCUMULATION 2 TO 5 INCHES. HIGHS IN THE 30S.
VARIABLE WIND TO 10 MPH. NEAR WHITTIER…EAST WIND 10 TO 25 MPH.
TEMPERATURE / PRECIPITATION
SEWARD 40 29 37 / 90 100 90
GIRDWOOD 43 32 34 / 80 90 90
WEATHER STATION SUMMARY for Turnagain Pass:
-3800′ Sunburst Wx Station-
Temperatures 20 degrees. Wind gusting to 60 from the ENE.
-2600′ Seattle Ridge Wx Station-
Temperature 23 degrees. Wind gusting to 45 from the SE.
-1800′ Center Ridge Wx Station-
Temperature 17. 5″ new snow. Total snow depth 78″.