Merry Christmas backcountry travelers this is Carl Skustad with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Friday, December 25 at 7 am. This will serve as a general backcountry avalanche advisory issued for Turnagain Arm with Turnagain Pass as the core advisory area (advisory does not apply to highways, railroads, or operating ski areas).
The beacon park is open at the Alyeska Resort. It’s located opposite the Hotel Alyeska at the tram loop. It’s a great place to practice your beacon rescue skills.
The weather mellowed out yesterday, winds slowed down briefly before picking up again late in the day at higher elevations. Current alpine winds are averaging 14 to 30 and gusting up to the mid 50’s out of the SE. Precipitation just started a couple of hours ago. No snow and only a couple of 100th of rain so far. Temperatures are way up. 39 deg F at sea level and 28-33 at ridge tops. The snow line looks to have risen to 2500 ft.
-The Center Ridge Wx Station at 1800 feet/Turnagain Pass-
recorded 0 inches of new snow and .02 inches of water in the last 24 hours. The current temp is 36 F (6 degrees warmer than yesterday) with a total snowpack depth of 68 inches.
-The Sunburst Wx Station at 3800 feet/Turnagain Pass-
is showing 21-27 mph winds out of the E, with gusts of 49 mph. The current temperature is 28 deg F
-The Summit Lake Wx Station at 1200 feet-
recorded 0 inches of new snow and 0 inches of water in the last 24 hours. The current temp is 34F ( 2 degrees warmer than yesterday) with a total snowpack depth of 33 inches.
-The Fresno Ridge Wx Station at 3400 feet/Summit Lake-
is showing 20-30 mph winds with gust of 37-45 mph out of the SE.
A very strong 968 mb low is located in the gulf spinning shortwave precipitation at us. Heavy cloud cover and precip on the radar and satellite. It looks to be a wet Christmas.
The weather forecast for:
WESTERN PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND-
.500 AM AKST FRI DEC 25 2009
.TODAY…RAIN. HIGHS IN THE MID 30S TO LOWER 40S. NORTH TO EAST WIND
10 TO 20 MPH.
.TONIGHT…RAIN AND SNOW. SNOW ACCUMULATION UP TO 1 INCH OVER HIGHER
ELEVATIONS. LOWS IN THE 30S…COLDEST INLAND. EAST WIND 10 TO 20 MPH
EXCEPT EAST 15 TO 30 MPH THROUGH PORTAGE VALLEY AND TURNAGAIN ARM.
.SATURDAY…RAIN. HIGHS IN THE MID 30S TO LOWER 40S. EAST WIND 10 TO
15 MPH EXCEPT EAST 20 TO 30 MPH THROUGH PORTAGE VALLEY AND TURNAGAIN
.SATURDAY NIGHT…RAIN AND SNOW. LOWS IN THE UPPER 20S TO MID
30S. EAST WIND 15 TO 20 MPH EXCEPT EAST 15 TO 30 MPH THROUGH
PORTAGE VALLEY AND TURNAGAIN ARM.
.SUNDAY…RAIN LIKELY. HIGHS IN THE MID 30S TO NEAR 40. EAST WIND 10
TO 15 MPH.
.SUNDAY NIGHT…CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF RAIN AND SNOW. LOWS 25 TO 35.
TEMPERATURE / PRECIPITATION
SEWARD 41 34 38 / 100 100 80
GIRDWOOD 40 26 39 / 100 100 80
Today’s avalanche hazard is CONSIDERABLE. Natural avalanches possible and human triggered avalanches likely. Dangerous avalanche conditions exist. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious routefinding and conservative decision-making are essential.
Taking a look around the advisory area yesterday one could see numerous natural avalanches. Most of them were in the 1000 to 2000 foot elevational band. Above this band stability looks a little better. Collapsing and shooting cracks were observed at these elevations yesterday. We obviously have some crazy warm weather and precip working on our snowpack. Heavy precip today could push the rain higher than it has been in the past. If this is the case the chance for natural avalanche activity will elevate quickly. Rain on snow adds stress and no strength. We have a couple of weak layers in our snowpack. The surface hoar buried 1-2 feet and recent storm snow interface.
I will issue the advisory tomorrow morning at 7am. If you get out in the backcountry give us a call at 754-2369 or send us your observations using the button at the top of this page