We are in the midst of a slow transition into a warm, wet, springtime snowpack. Over the past few days we have noticed supportable crusts on all aspects, including up to at least 2500’ on northerly slopes. We are also continuing to note natural avalanche activity on the slopes that get the most sun (south, east, and west aspects). This includes glide avalanches, wet loose avalanches, and some smaller wet slab releases. All of that said, our transition to a springtime snowpack is unusually late this season. That translates into a lot of room for change, and the potential for a big avalanche cycle that we have not yet seen.
For the next few days, we are expecting a series of weak storm systems that may bring heavy precipitation to the coast but will likely only amount to a few inches of snow at Turnagain Pass and near Girdwood. The rain line is looking like it will stay below 1000’ for this next round of precipitation, which means we can expect to see snow falling on crusts at and above treeline. We will be on the lookout for avalanches failing at that new/old interface, which will include storm slabs, wind slabs, and dry loose avalanches during and immediately after the storm, followed by wet loose activity as skies clear afterward.
For those of you looking to get out for a hike or a Nordic ski at lower elevations, be aware of the potential for bigger avalanches at low elevations as the precipitation continues to fall as rain on a saturated snowpack. With mild overnight temperatures and mostly cloudy skies, it is likely these lower elevations will not see much overnight freezing– one warning sign for wet snow avalanches.
We will continue to track changes in the snowpack for the next few days, and will issue another update towards the end of the week. In the meantime, please take a minute to drop an observation if you get a chance to get out! It’s late in the season and we are working with sparse data, which increases the uncertainty for everyone who is getting out in the backcountry.
Wet slab avalanche gouging down to the ground on the front side of Seattle Ridge. This avalanche likely occurred over last weekend or early this week. 05.02.2023
We’refinding wet to moist snow on northerly aspects now. The transition to a springtime snowpack has been slow this year, but it is starting to happen. 05.03.2023
We’re not expecting much out of this next round of precipitation, but we will be keeping an eye on new snow avalanche problems during and immediately after the storm. Graphic courtesy of NWS Anchorage, 05.03.2023
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