Yesterday was a day for natural avalanche observations. A natural avalanche was observed in Crow Creek just after 2 pm. Details are unknown but the photo of the power cloud in action is concerning. A very large avalanche that was thought to have been naturally triggered sometime in the last couple days above Luebner Lake was observed from the air. This was the largest avalanche we know of recently. In addition, a few natural avalanches were observed in motion out of the forecast area near Moose Pass and Cooper Landing. Over the past few days we know of 6 skier and/or snowmachine triggered slab avalanches from Girdwood, Turnagain Pass and Summit Lake. No one has been caught to date and several have been triggered remotely. All of these avalanches are failing on weak faceted snow 2-3′ below the surface. Many are being triggered in the mid-elevation band around 2,000′ and outside of wind effect. All of this data is pointing to a dangerous snowpack! Heads up!!!!
|Signal Word||Size (D scale)||Simple Descriptor|
|Small||1||Unlikely to bury a person|
|Large||2||Can bury a person|
|Very Large||3||Can destroy a house|
|Historic||4 & 5||Can destroy part or all of a village|
Triggering a large dangerous avalanche on buried weak snow remains a concern today. You might be starting feel like the forecast is a broken record because we keep saying this and the danger is still CONSIDERABLE. Unfortunately signs continue to point to large avalanches being a very real and scary possibility and cautious travel has to be the prudent advice. Wind loading in some terrain over the past week and warm temperatures have made the slab over the weak snow (facets and surface hoar) more connected. Often warm temperatures are associated with healing in the snowpack but this time it is actually making things worse. The slab is more cohesive and it’s increasing the potential size of the avalanche (example being the Luebner avalanche) and the likelihood of triggering an avalanche remotely (from the side, below or above a slope). There have been multiple human triggered avalanches reported this week and some concerning natural avalanches. There is snow and wind in the forecast today and tomorrow. These will add more slab and stress to the snowpack. The message today is again… Weak snow that formed in January is lurking 2-3′ below the surface. Please don’t be the trigger!
Some things to remember with this kind of avalanche problem:
Wind slabs: To add insult to injury… While you are trying to avoid large persistent slab avalanches also be on the lookout for fresh wind slabs in leeward terrain.
Video link HERE.
Yesterday: Mostly clear skies in the morning and then clouds building in the afternoon. Temperatures were in the 20Fs at upper elevations and the low 30Fs at lower elevations during the day and overnight. Winds were westerly 5-15 mph gusting into the 20s. Wind shifted to the east and increased overnight to 10-20 mph gusting into the 40s.
Today: Skies will be cloudy with snow likely and 3-6″ forecast. Below 1000′ may see mixed precipitation. Winds will be easterly 15-25 mph gusting into the 40s. Temperatures will be in the mid 20Fs to low 30Fs. Snow showers will continues overnight with another 3-6″ possible.
Tomorrow: Snow likely with rain at sea level. Temperatures in the mid 20Fs to mid 40Fs depending on elevation. Easterly winds through Turnagain arm could gust into the 60s. Temperatures cool slightly in the evening promoting more snow than rain showers and winds should decrease. There is overall cooling trend starting Sunday evening into next week.
PRECIPITATION 24-hour data (6am – 6am)
|Temp Avg (F)||Snow (in)||Water (in)||Snow Depth (in)|
|Center Ridge (1880′)||28||1||0.1||54|
|Summit Lake (1400′)||23||0||0||20|
|Alyeska Mid (1700′)||27||1||0.02||55|
RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)
|Temp Avg (F)||Wind Dir||Wind Avg (mph)||Wind Gust (mph)|
|Seattle Ridge (2400′)||23||E*||7*||24*|
*Big thanks to the Alaska Avalanche School motorized Level 1 class for cleaning off the Seattle Ridge anemometer (wind sensor) around noon yesterday! Wind data is from after that.
|01/19/21||Turnagain||Avalanche: Cornbiscuit||Schauer/ Johnston-Bloom Forecaster|
|01/18/21||Turnagain||Observation: Turnagain Pass Road Obs.||A Schauer Forecaster|
|01/16/21||Turnagain||Avalanche: Tincan Trees||A Schauer Forecaster|
|01/15/21||Turnagain||Observation: Sunburst||Schauer/ Wunnicke Forecaster|
|01/13/21||Turnagain||Observation: Tincan||Johnston-Bloom / Moderow Forecaster|
|01/13/21||Turnagain||Observation: Center Ridge Meadows||Alaska Avalanche School Rec Level 1 Roberts|
|01/12/21||Turnagain||Avalanche: Seattle Ridge/Center Ridge||A Schauer Forecaster|
|01/11/21||Turnagain||Observation: Tincan Trees||Schauer/ Roberts Forecaster|
|01/10/21||Turnagain||Observation: Center Ridge Meadows||Alaska Avalanche School Pro 1 Course Latosuo|
|01/10/21||Turnagain||Avalanche: Tincan trees||Anonymous|
Status of riding areas across the Chugach NF is managed by the Glacier and Seward Ranger Districts, not avalanche center staff. Riding area information is posted as a public service to our users and updated based on snow depth and snow density to prevent resource damage at trailhead locations. Riding area questions contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
|Area||Status||Weather & Riding Conditions|
This is 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.