|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.
Turnagain Pass – We were able to find a very small wind slab at the top of treeline (2300′, N aspect) on Tincan yesterday. This failed easily with the weight of a skier but was only ~6″ deep and 15′ wide. In windier locations I imagine these wind slabs were larger, easy to trigger, and probably releasing naturally in some locations.
|Size (D scale)
|Unlikely to bury a person
|Can bury a person
|Can destroy a house
|4 & 5
|Can destroy part or all of a village
After a welcome refresh of new snow on Tuesday/Wednesday, with 6-8″ in Turnagain Pass and closer to 12″ in upper Girdwood Valley, there is a lot of soft snow on the surface right now! Unfortunately, that new snow was immediately followed by moderate to strong NW winds that will easily transport the new snow into wind slabs up to 2′ deep on leeward aspects. These are most likely to be found on upper elevation ridgelines, cross loaded gullies, and convex rolls. The new snow fell onto a weak and faceted old snow surface which could make wind slabs release on lower angle terrain than typical and could cause them to propagate more easily to create a larger avalanche.
To identify areas with wind slabs it is important to pay attention to the local wind direction. Using your ski poles and stepping out of the skin track to feel for stiffer or hollow feeling snow on the surface is a great way to get a sense for the wind loading patterns in your area. Using small test slopes is also a good way to see how reactive the new surface snow is before exposing yourself to larger slopes (see illustration below).
In areas that received more new snow (10″+) storm snow avalanches up to 1′ deep are possible as the layer of new snow settles and starts to gain some strength. We saw easy failures in our snowpit tests yesterday at the interface of the new snow and old snow surface, but there wasn’t enough strength in the slab to cause propagating factures. Today the slab has likely gained some strength and we could see human triggered avalanches in sheltered locations that received a lot of snowfall yesterday. We don’t have much information on avalanche activity due to low visibility yesterday, so let us know if you see any recent avalanches!
Loose snow avalanches (aka sluffs) are likely on any steep terrain features that haven’t seen much wind affect.
Yesterday: Light snowfall yesterday morning added another 1-2″ of snow as the storm moved out. Moderate to strong NW winds picked up in the morning and blew throughout the day with averages of 10-20 mph and gusts to 30 mph in most locations. Areas more exposed to gap winds, like Turnagain Arm and higher elevations, saw higher wind speeds with averages of 25-35 mph and gusts of 50-70 mph. Cloud cover obscured the mountains in the morning but was gradually lifting in the afternoon and looks to have cleared overnight.
Today: No new snowfall is expected today. Colder temperatures, NW winds, and clearing skies are expected. Temperatures will start off in the low twenties to teens and drop into the low teens and single digits today. Winds should remain out of the NW with averages of 15-25 mph and gusts of 30-40 mph.
Tomorrow: Friday looks very similar to today with temperatures continuing to drop into the single digits, clear skies, and NW winds. Wind speeds will remain relatively constant throughout the day and start to taper off slightly on Friday evening. Our next snowfall is expected on Sunday evening and Monday.
PRECIPITATION 24-hour data (6am – 6am)
|Temp Avg (F)
|Snow Depth (in)
|Center Ridge (1880′)
|Summit Lake (1400′)
|Alyeska Mid (1700′)
|Bear Valley – Portage (132′)
RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)
|Temp Avg (F)
|Wind Avg (mph)
|Wind Gust (mph)
|Seattle Ridge (2400′)
|Observation: TinCan Backdoor/ Center Ridge
|AAS L1 Turnagain
|Avalanche: Lynx Creek
|Observation: Turnagain, Seattle, Mt Ascension
|Silverton Mountain Guides
|Observation: Tincan Trees
|Dalpes/Thamm/ Schauer Forecaster
|Observation: Seward Highway across from Johnson Pass TH
|Avalanche: Base of Seattle Ridge
|Troy Tempel, Thomas Lees, .Josh Bollaert, Damian Naquin
|Observation: Lynx creek
|Observation: Tincan Trees
|Moderow / Clayton