November 12 UPDATE
DANGEROUS AVALANCHE CONDITIONS above 3,000′
A large avalanche was triggered by a skier (second skier on slope) at 4,000′ in elevation on Goldpan at Turnagain Pass on Saturday, Nov 11th. Skier is OK, able to ski off slab. This avalanche triggered a much larger slab in adjacent terrain. This is bulls eye data that more of these types of avalanches could be triggered by people in the high elevations again today.
Please see report HERE.
November 10 UPDATE
Winter has arrived! And apparently all at once. Since snowfall began Tuesday night, we have seen roughly 4-6′ snow fall in the mountains, with snow down to sea level and around 3′ of snow in Girdwood. Here’s the breakdown for storm totals for a few weather stations:
- 3.6″ SWE equaling 39″ snow at Alyeska’s mid-mountain station.
- 5.4″ SWE equalling 42″ snow at the Alyeska Snotel station.
- 5.5″ Snow Water Equivalent (SWE), equaling 43″ settled snow since Tuesday night, which includes 4.8″ SWE between Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
- 2.8″ SWE equaling 29″ settled snow.
The majority of this came in Wednesday night through Thursday morning, including a 5-hour window where precipitation rates averaged 0.3-0.4″ an hour (3-4″ snow per hour, roughly). This storm produced beyond most model predictions, and better yet, also brought snow to sea level for most of the event. With all of this new snow on the ground all at once, we have jumped right into avalanche season.
It is looking like we may have a few days of quiet weather before the next storm event, but avalanche conditions will remain dangerous through the weekend. The season is just getting started, and we have virtually no data in the aftermath of the storm. What we do know is that all of this snow fell on older snow surfaces at upper elevations. One big question is how well this will bond to those old surfaces, and how long it will take for the storm snow to settle out. At elevations below around 2500′, this snow fell on bare ground for the most part, which likely means avalanche conditions will improve quicker than in the alpine. For now, the best way to approach the backcountry is with a conservative mindset, aimed more at assessment rather than big terrain objectives. Be on the lookout for obvious red flags like recent avalanche activity or cracking and collapsing. Be aware that the absence of these signs does not necessarily mean we have a stable snowpack.
We’ve just gotten a serious jump start on the season! Play it safe for now, and be sure to send us a note or submit an observation if you get out this weekend.
***ROOF AVALANCHES: Many roofs have slid during the storm, and there are still plenty more that are now loaded. Be sure to keep an eye on kids and pets playing outside, and be mindful of where you park your vehicles and how you enter and exit your house.
Looking at Seattle Ridge from just south of the motorized parking lot. Photo courtesy of Chugach National Forest Law Enforcement, 11.09.2023
View of Sunburst and Magnum ridges from the road. Photo courtesy of Chugach National Forest Law Enforcement, 11.09.2023
The scene from the streets of Girdwood Thursday afternoon. 11.09.2023
Chugach NF Avalanche Center – early season operations:
- The Avalanche Center will issue intermittent weather and avalanche updates as conditions warrant through mid November.
- Daily avalanche forecasts are planned to begin around Thanksgiving week.
**PLEASE, send us your reports if you head into the mountains. It’s easy – even just a photo is greatly appreciated.
Avalanche rescue gear and communications:
- Is your rescue gear working properly?
- Beacons (avalanche transceivers) – fresh batteries
- Probes – able to assemble properly with no weak points in the cable
- Shovels – not damaged and is a true avalanche shovel
- Airbags – charged, working properly, and tested
- InReach up to date and associated with the correct emergency contacts
POSTPONED: Southcentral Alaska Avalanche Workshop – now Nov 17, 9:00am to 4:30pm
- Alaska’s Annual snow science workshop (SAAW) has been POSTPONED- because there is too much snow. Thank you for your patience as we pivot to accommodate this remarkable storm. Visit akavalancheworkshop.org for the most up to date information. This event is geared for both snow professionals and public backcountry users alike. If you are a snow/avalanche geek, this is the event for you!
Nov 14, 7:00pm- MSP Ski Film!
- MatchStick Productions – “The Land of Giants” – Trailer HERE.
Showing at the West Anchorage High School Auditorium. Doors open at 6pm.
Tickets HERE ($20 in advance and $25 at the door).