Good morning backcountry travelers, this is Matt Murphy with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Thursday, December 11, 2008 at 7am. This will serve as a general backcountry avalanche advisory issued for the Turnagain Arm (Turnagain Pass is the core advisory area). Local variations always occur. Note: We are now issuing regular advisories 5 days a week Wednesday-Sunday.
INTERAGENCY AVALANCHE RESCUE TRAINING
On the weekend of December 13-14, there will be an avalanche rescue training taking place this weekend at Turnagain Pass. Please be aware of rescue workers, helicopters, rescue snowmachines and areas set up for rescue training drills. Thanks.
MOUNTAIN WEATHER ROUND UP
In the last 24 hours…
-The Center Ridge weather station at 1800 feet in Turnagain Pass-
Recorded .1 inch of water and 1 inch of new snow. Current temperature is 18 degrees F (3 degrees colder than yesterday morning). Total snowpack depth is 64 inches, with a total of 5 inches of settlement since yesterday.
-Sunburst weather station at 3800 feet in Turnagain Pass-
Recorded light winds averaging 3-11 mph from variable directions with a moderate gust of 22 mph. Current temperature is 11 degrees F (10 degrees colder than yesterday)
-Surface Analysis Maps-
From 3 am Wednesday to 9pm last night, showed that same storm that dumped on us is still hanging around. It continued to stall out in some sort of eddy just south of Prince William Sound. It has gotten very weak (991Mb-1014Mb). There are a couple of new storms by Russia.
The analysis from 9pm last night showed the main flow streaming from west to east and heading right towards Juneau. The forecast predicts shift in the next 24 hours and start flowing from north to south.
As of 6:00 am this morning… it looks pretty boring. It does not look like there is anything over us worth talking about.
The Middleton radar is working again. It shows a wall of light precip from Valdez past Cordova. Its moving east
-General Weather Observations-
Ridge top temperatures are colder this morning than yesterday by 7-10 degrees. Sea-level temps are warming today than yesterday by 2-5 degrees. Winds have been very calm in the past 24 hours.
PRIMARY AVALANCHE CONCERNS
AVALANCHE AND SNOWPACK DISCUSSION
Carl and I had some grey-bird visibility yesterday and saw natural avalanches that appeared to rip out during the storm because they were filled in with some new snow. The biggest one was on Todd’s Run on the north side of Tincan (see photo gallery). The next biggest natural avalanche was on the eastern aspect of Sunnyside accross from the motorized parking lot (see photo gallery). We also saw numerous small to medium natural avalanches on Sunburst, Magnum, Cornbiscuit and Lipps. Plus, a good sized glide crack has formed on the southwest aspect of Lipps right in the middle of my favorite ski run on that mountain (see photo gallery). The south and southwest aspects of Magnum had numerous natural avalanches on steep rollovers at mid elevations. Plus, I’m not 100% sure, but it looked like there was a very deep crown face on the Southwest aspect of Magnum under the cornice. It was really filled in, but I’ll bet that was a large natural avalanche.
DOT triggered a good sized class 3 avalanche with artillery yesterday along Bird Flats yesterday that left a large debris pile at the bottom.
Here’s the facts…
-Those week October facets failed on multiple aspects during this past storm.
-Big terrain with large bowls near wind scoured ridges seemed to produce the largest avalanches.
-Artillery was able to trigger some large avalanches yesterday afternoon.
-The snowpack has settle 5 inches in the past 24 hours, temps have cooled down, winds have been light, and there has been no additional loading.
It appears that the right kind of trigger, like a big storm or artillery can still create avalanches on those October facets. Here is the big question, “Can a human trigger an avalanche today?” Well, I’ll bet that there are still some dangerous avalanche conditions on some terrain features; so, it will be important to evaluate your snow an terrain carefully and use good travel habits. Let’s slowly ease back into the mountains, stay away from big lines, and watch our slope angles today.
WATCH OUT SITUATIONS
-Rocky terrain with shallow snow connected to deeper snow
-Steep rollovers (check out the photo gallery picture of Mangum)
WESTERN PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND-
500 AM AKST THU DEC 11 2008
.TODAY…MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH SCATTERED SNOW SHOWERS. HIGHS IN THE
20S. NORTH TO WEST WINDS 10 TO 20 MPH. GUSTS TO 30 MPH NEAR SEWARD
.TONIGHT…PARTLY CLOUDY. LOWS IN THE MID TEENS TO LOWER 20S.
WEST TO NORTH WINDS 10 TO 20 MPH. GUSTS TO 40 MPH NEAR SEWARD AND
.FRIDAY…INCREASING CLOUDS. HIGHS IN THE UPPER TEENS TO MID 20S.
NORTH TO WEST WINDS 10 TO 20 MPH. GUSTS TO 40 MPH NEAR SEWARD AND
WHITTIER IN THE MORNING.
TEMPERATURE / PRECIPITATION
SEWARD 25 18 24 / 20 0 0
GIRDWOOD 24 15 21 / 40 0 0