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Sat, November 25th, 2017 - 7:00AM
Sun, November 26th, 2017 - 7:00AM
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

As the weather starts to change today be aware of changing avalanche conditions. The forecast is calling for 1-6″ of snow over the next 12 hours combined with moderate Easterly winds. This is enough wind and precipitation to form new wind slabs on steep leeward features, unsupported slopes or cross loaded gullies. Although wind slabs are expected to be small they could be tender, and even a shallow slab could have high consequences in the wrong place. Due to early season conditions, rocks and exposed terrain features are abundant and pretty difficult to avoid right now. Its important to keep in mind that our current surface conditions will be suspect weak layers as snow starts to accumulate. Cold temperatures over the last few weeks have faceted out the snowpack in many places creating a weak foundation. There is at most seven inches of low density snow is sitting on the ground from the road to mid elevations of Turnagain Pass, and in the alpine it’s extremely variable. Check out recent observations and a video below from  Seattle Ridge  and  Tincan  this week.  Remember if there snow to ride, there’s enough snow to slide! Pay attention for any clues of instability: wumpfing sounds, shooting cracks, or any recent avalanches.

This week expect a big pattern change in the weather as a strong low pressure moves into the Gulf of Alaska. Although there’s still some uncertainty as to how much precipitation the Kenai Mountains will get, expect warmer temps and a shift away from the cold pattern we’ve experienced over the last few weeks. We will be issuing another update on Monday and if this storm materializes, Monday will mark the beginning of daily advisories.

Sparse snow coverage on the SE face of Seattle Ridge, Repeat Offender. Photo taken Friday, November 24th.

Facets have been forming throughout the month of November due to cold temperates and a very thin snowpack. Our current surface conditions could be our next problem layer once we get snow.

Keep an eye out for hollow sounding snow and avoid steep terrain if it looks to be wind loaded: smooth pillowed features.

Strong winds over the last few weeks have created variable surface conditions on windward slopes in the alpine. Photo of Seattle Ridge looking South.

Special Announcements

It is with very heavy hearts that we pass along the news of an avalanche fatality at Hatcher Pass on Wednesday, November 22nd. Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center released a preliminary report  yesterday with more details about the accident.  You can keep up to date at their website  hpavalanche.org  and their Facebook page  HERE.   For the most recent Anchorage Daily News article click HERE. Our deepest condolences go out to the victim’s family and friends at this incredibly difficult time.

Hatcher Pass avalanche conditions:  If you are headed to Hatcher Pass this holiday weekend, please check their forecast at  hpavalanche.org  for avalanche information.

CNFAIC staff will be at the Yamaha dealership on Spenard today (Saturday) from 11-2pm with info about the Avalanche Center, our forecast page, and avalanche rescue equipment.

Sat, November 25th, 2017
Above 2,500'
0 - No Rating
Avalanche risk
0 - No Rating
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
0 - No Rating
Avalanche risk
0 - No Rating
1 - Low
2 - Moderate
3 - Considerable
4 - High
5 - Extreme
Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk
Travel Advice 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.
Avalanche Problem 1

Are you Rescue ready? 

An avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe are the minimum required avalanche rescue equipment for backcountry travel, but simply carrying this gear isn’t enough. This means making sure your equipment is up-to-date and functional, and you are proficient at using this gear under stress. Old avalanche beacons should be up graded to new technology similar to how we upgrade our smart phones. Replace batteries, assemble your probe, and practice before you go into the mountains. Everyone should strive to become an expert at companion rescue. This means taking an avalanche course and practicing your skills regularly under stress. Refreshing your avalanche rescue skills is just like keeping your CPR and first aid skills current. If its been more than a few years take a course you’ll be surprised how much has changed and how little you remember.


Sat, November 25th, 2017

For weather information during these updates, see:

CNFAIC Weather Page

NWS Mountain Recreation Forecast  

PRECIPITATION 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′)
Summit Lake (1400′)
Alyeska Mid (1700′)

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′)
Seattle Ridge (2400′)
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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.